Treatment Options for a Torn Meniscus

Healing from One of the Most Common Knee Injuries

Treatment Options for a Torn MeniscusHave you been experiencing pain or swelling in your knee, or do you get a popping sensation when you turn a certain way? Does your leg lock up or seem stiff? Are youhaving difficulty bending or straightening out at your knee? There’s a good chance you’ve torn your meniscus.

What Is Meniscus?

Meniscus is cartilage that provides cushioning on the sides of your knee. There’s meniscus on the outside of the knee (the lateral meniscus) and the inside (the medial meniscus). The most common cause of a torn meniscus is twisting or turningthe upper leg when your foot is planted and your knees are bent, such as when you make a sudden change of direction. Meniscus tears are more common as you get older and cartilage starts to weaken.

While the meniscus can be completely severed, it’s more common for a little flap of cartilage to separate from the rest of the meniscus. An X-ray generally won’t show torn meniscus, but an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) typically will.

How Do You Treat Torn Meniscus?

Treatment typically depends on the location and extent of the tear. You may opt for different types of treatment based on your age and level of physical fitness and whether you’ve had a prior injury.

If you suffer a small tear on the outer layer of the meniscus, you may be able to heal by simply resting your knee as much as possible. Blood flow is generally much better on the outer portion of the meniscus, increasing the chances that the meniscus will heal on its own. The RICE approach (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) may be sufficient.

Most meniscus tears, however, are in the body of the meniscus, where there’s an insufficient flow of nutrients to promote self-healing. In those situations, you’ll likely need surgery to either repair or remove some part of the meniscus. Unless you needsignificant meniscus repair, the surgery is customarily done arthroscopically (a minimally invasive procedure) on an outpatient basis. If you do require repair, your doctor will likely prescribe a brace afterward to help stabilize your knee.

Spinal Stenosis—Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

According to statistics gathered by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, about one in every 10 Americans suffers from some form of spinal stenosis with the malady most common among people over the age of 50. What is it, what are the symptoms, what causes it, and what can you do about it?

What Is Spinal Stenosis?

Very simply, stenosis causes the spaces within your spine to narrow. When that happens, there can be extra pressure on all the nerves that travel up and down yourspine. Spinal stenosis is categorized as either cervical stenosis, where your neck is primarily affected, or lumbar stenosis, found in your lower back. You may be diagnosed with both types of spinal stenosis.

What Causes Spinal Stenosis?

Though spinal stenosis can be congenital (you may be born with a small spinal canal), it’s usually caused by some event or development in your body, such as a:

  • Herniated disc
  • Tumor
  • Spinal injury
  • Ligament injury or deterioration
  • Overgrowth of bone

What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?

With both types of spinal stenosis, a common symptom is numbness, tingling or a weakness. With cervical stenosis, that sensation may be in the hand, arm, foot or leg. With lumbar stenosis, it’s customarily limited to the foot or leg. With cervical stenosis, you’ll typically experience neck pain and difficulties with balance or walking. With lumbar stenosis, it’s common to have cramping or discomfort when you walk or when you stand for long periods of time. Those symptoms are generally alleviated when you sit down or lean forward. If you find that you’re stooped over orconstantly leaning forward, you may have stenosis.

How is Spinal Stenosis Treated?

A definite diagnosis of spinal stenosis typically requires an x-ray, an MRI or a CT myelogram. There are a number of ways to treat spinal stenosis. Surgery is always an option, but typically should be one of the last. If your stenosis is mild and you’ve caught it early, a physical therapy regimen can be extremely helpful. You can, of course, take pain medications or anti-inflammatories. Steroid injections can help relieve irritation or inflammation. If your stenosis is the result of thickened ligaments, you may also undergo a decompression procedure, where small, needle-like tools are used to excise part of the ligament and relieve pressure.

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