Meniscus Tears: Do All Require Surgical Intervention?

Rugby players generally have a higher risk of meniscus tears, what some people refer to as torn cartilage. One of the facts about meniscus tears is that there are different types of them, not all of them require surgery, and not all individuals will require an MRI. With that, let’s find out who requires mere rehabilitation or a surgery.

Triggers & What You Feel

Sports like rugby leave a number of players with meniscus tears. In this, your knee becomes bridged across another player’s body who may fall onto your knee causing a hyperextend. Some patients may feel a change while others may not feel it at that particular moment. Others in fact, can continue with the game.

Some players may witness swelling, but there may be no pain for a couple of months or even years. When pain manifests itself, it may be sharp and localized.

Other indications for a meniscus tear include a constant dull ache sensation. The tear will become painful when you bend the knee deeply or straighten it fully, or when you twist the knee with the foot fixed on the ground.

Confirming a Meniscus Tear

To confirm that a patient has a meniscus tear, several knee tests are required and most of them are intended to recreate the pain. Among the several tests conducted is a bounce test. With this test, a patient’s knee is hyperextended with the help of the knee. You will feel pain during the process, most especially when the knee springs. This generally indicates that something isn’t right.

McMurray’s exam

With this test, your knee is compressed, bent, and then rotated all at once throughout the range of motion. To confirm a meniscus tear, pain must be reproduced and at times a locking.

Apley’s exam

With this test, a patient will lie on his stomach and the knee is placed at a 90-degree bend. The therapist or examiner will push down through the heel and then rotates the leg to examine any pain.

The Swipe Test

With this test, the examiner will swipe the knee with a hand to trigger a pocket of swelling to develop in the location of a meniscus tear.

In case the intended results aren’t obtained, an MRI should be performed, especially when there is a persistent pain, swelling and immobility.

Is Surgery The Only Option?

Some tears are absolutely inconsequential and similarly, not all MRI diagnosed tears require surgery. Therefore, treatment (rehabilitation) is seen as an effective approach to eliminating pain, inflammation, stiffness, locking, or even swelling. The treatment will also help increase ROM and improve the way a patient’s knee function.

In case of pain, swelling and immobility return after a month or more after treatment, a surgery is the next treatment approach. In most cases, extended rehabilitation may help a patient live and work normally, but in case this fails, a surgery should be conducted.

An evaluation is important before the surgery and the surgeon’s experience is the greatest determinant of successful outcomes.

If the pain isn’t that much, a patient’s cartilage may be spared by foregoing the surgery.

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