What is the Meniscus?
Simply put, the meniscus is a crescent-shaped disk that is composed of cartilage, the body's main connective tissue that assists myriad structural and functional purposes. There are two meniscus disks in each knee.
One (the medial meniscus) is located on the inner side of the knee, while the other -- the lateral meniscus -- is found on the outer side. Because these disks are located in such strategic places, they play a major part in knee stability and general mobility.
Orthopedic Surgeon Howard J. Luks explained the role of the meniscus disk best on the educational page of his website for visitors who don't understand much about anatomy: "The meniscus acts like a block stuck behind a tire to stop a car from rolling." If you keep this in mind, you'll understand why a tear can be so debilitating.
The meniscus is vital to knee function because cartage acts as a shock absorber, taking the pressure off the knee's articular cartilage. What role does articular cartilage play in the knee's structure? It coats bone endings within knee joints, serving as a first defense against the development of osteoarthritis down the road. And you thought your knees were relatively simple parts of your lower extremities!
What is A Meniscus Tear?
The Mayo Clinic calls this type of injury one of the most often presented in ERs and doctor's offices when patients complain that even a small amount of activity involving their knees triggered painful twists or knee rotation that cause discomfort. Despite the discomfort, putting weight on the knee compounds the likelihood that this simple action can trigger a torn meniscus.
Symptoms associated with a torn meniscus are stiffness, pain, and swelling. The knee may also feel “blocked” when you try to use the leg for the most ordinary activities. Sufferers usually have trouble fully extending the knee as well, and it’s not uncommon to feel a popping sensation in the knee. Given symptoms like these, you might hesitate to put pressure on the leg, fearing that your knee could give way at any moment.
Who Might Tear A Meniscus?
This type of injury is so common, just about everyone could tear a meniscus. The most common triggers are strenuous exercise and a lack of knee protection when playing sports. The movements that result in knee twists or rotations caused by sudden stops, turns, and extreme pivoting are especially harmful. Further, if you work out at a gym, kneeling, squatting, or lifting – if carelessly executed – could also cause a tear.
Tennis, football, and basketball players are especially at risk because quick pivoting plays a big part in moves athletes commonly make when playing on turf or a court. General wear and tear on knees can also contribute to a meniscus tear as do obesity and failing to take preventative measures as soon as a knee exhibits symptoms of injury and pain. Seniors are especially vulnerable to meniscus tears due to degenerative changes in aging bodies.
How Can I Reduce the Risk of A Meniscus Tear?
Because there is no one cause for a meniscus tear, even staying vigilant may not be enough because many of these injuries result from accidents over which you have no control. That stated, the good news is that there are precautions you can take to minimize risk and avoid complications that can arise if you ignore the first symptoms of a knee injury:
Work to maintain flexibility so an abrupt twist or stop doesn’t lead to a tear.
Focus on the health of your thigh muscles by toning them regularly.
Choose proper shoes for the activities you undertake. Excellent support and fitness are essential.
Always warm up your legs before undertaking more strenuous moves.
Give your body rest time between workouts since fatigued muscles increase your risk of a meniscus tear.
Avoid abruptly changing your fitness routine. Make activity change slowly so your knees don’t take a hit.
Use knee brace to take advantage of its protective benefits.
Why Knee Braces for Meniscus Tear Issues Make Sense?
If you've browsed the Internet lately looking for information on knee injuries and remedies that belong in the nonsurgical category, you have likely run into lists of ways to deal with a knee injury as soon as one happens. Ice, rest, compression, and elevation are all recommended. But as new physiological research within the sports medicine field is undertaken, knee braces are playing more important roles in recovery efforts than ever.
If you’ve shopped in person or online, you know that there is no shortage of knee braces on the market specifically recommended for people suffering a meniscus tear. Consider acquiring one or more knee braces for meniscus tear problems as soon as you start to experience knee pain so you don't injure your knee further.
Ignore initial signs of knee problems and you could wind up developing osteoarthritis or find yourself having to consider more radical treatments like surgery. You’ll have many knee braces choices when you shop, and you won’t have to compromise your budget to add one or more to your gear since they come in myriad prices, materials and colors.