Meniscus Tear

Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

Medically reviewed by Dr. James Tan

What Is a Meniscus Tear?

Meniscus injuries are one of the most common types of knee injuries that can result in pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the knee. The meniscus is a cartilaginous tissue that is located in the knee. The meniscus can get partially or completely torn when injured because of an injury, trauma, or accident. This can result in knee pain and an inability to carry out your daily activities. Different meniscus injuries require different modes of treatment. This article discusses everything you need to know about meniscus tears, the different types of meniscus injuries, and the various treatment options for meniscus tears in Singapore.

Suspect an injury elsewhere? Seek cartilage injury treatment and therapy here at Ray of Health.

Diagnosis

The doctor performs a thorough physical exam to determine if the knee pain and other symptoms may be caused by a meniscus tear. The doctor will take a detailed medical history of the patient and the circumstances that led to the injury. He may also perform physical tests, including the McMurray test, which can help identify pain and a clicking sound in the knee that may indicate a meniscal tear.

Furthermore, the orthopaedic doctor may order imaging tests to confirm his diagnosis further. These tests include X-rays (to rule out any bone problems or fractures) and magnetic resonance imaging MRI (which visualise soft tissues in the knee region and can identify a torn meniscus).

How is a Meniscus Tear Treated?

Depending on the diagnosis of a meniscus tear, the type and location of the tear, and other factors, the doctor will chalk out a treatment plan for the patient. Treatment of torn meniscus in Singapore may comprise non-surgical conservative modalities or the doctor may recommend surgery as the only option.

Non-Surgical Treatment Modalities for Torn Meniscus

In case of minor meniscus tears where the knee is stable, the doctor will usually take the conservative approach as the first line of treatment after physical examination. The patient may be advised according to the following non-surgical protocols.

Rest and Activity Modification

Probably the first advice of the doctor is to give your injured knee rest. This means trying to keep your weight off the injured knee by using a cane or crutches. The doctor may also advise you to avoid activities that put any strain on the affected knee. Modifying your activities and lifestyle can help give the knee an adequate amount of rest, so it can help with the pain and swelling.

Moreover, as part of the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) protocol, applying ice on the injured knee for several minutes a number of times a day can also help reduce the swelling. Wrapping the knee in a compression bandage and propping the knee up while you lie down have also shown to reduce inflammation and pain.

Medication

Your doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen to reduce pain and swelling caused by a meniscus tear. In cases of severe pain, the doctor may prescribe stronger prescription pain-killers to manage their pain. However, their intake should be regulated and only be taken according to the prescribed dosage.

Corticosteroid Injections

A corticosteroid injection is an effective way to help reduce pain and swelling in the knee, however it will not do anything for the meniscus tear itself. Such an injection is administered directly into the knee by the surgeon. Patients start to experience pain relief within a couple of days of administering the injection. Sometimes, a corticosteroid injection may provide long-lasting pain relief for the patient, especially in case of a minor meniscus tear.

Corticosteroid injections do have a few drawbacks. They should be given to people with diabetes and other metabolic conditions with caution as they tend to increase blood sugar levels. Moreover, giving too many of these injections in a short amount of time can weaken the soft tissues of the knee and result in cartilage deterioration.

Biologic Injections

Biologic injections comprise injection obtained from biological sources such as blood, bone marrow, and fat cells. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections are a type of biologics. This is an emerging scientific discovery that helps reduce pain and inflammation in the injured tissues and helps them heal. In case of a meniscus tear, biologic injections are injected directly into the knee. This can help promote healing of the tear as well as manage pain.

Assistive Devices

The doctor may suggest the use of assistive devices like braces and crutches to make sure that the weight on the knee is distributed and the affected knee is stabilised to promote healing and reduce pain.

Physical Therapy

After the initial swelling and inflammation of the injury has subsided, your orthopaedic doctor may recommend physical therapy to strengthen the knee muscles and improve mobility and flexibility. The physical therapist devises a personalised plan according to each patient’s condition and symptoms. Exercises and stretches are added in the therapy regimen to strengthen the thigh and leg muscles. The knee joint is stretched to improve its flexibility and range of motion. As the muscles start to strengthen, the therapist will suggest how and when to return to your daily activities followed by more rigorous and high-impact activities.

Surgical Treatment Options For Meniscus Tears

If non-surgical treatment options do not yield any favorable results, the doctor may advise partial meniscectomy. A knee arthroscopy may be carried out to find the cause of the injury and subsequently be treated through keyhole surgeries. The surgical treatment option may involve trimming or removing the torn pieces of the meniscus or attaching the meniscus pieces together depending on the individual injury. For more information on meniscus tear surgery, visit our blog here.

Find Meniscus Tear Treatment in Singapore

Meniscus tears are one of the most common knee injuries among young athletes and sportsmen. Older people are also more at risk of developing a injury because of their degenerating muscles, bones, and joints. While those are the most typical risk factors, it can happen to anyone at any time.

If you experience knee pain and swelling, you may have a torn meniscus. It is crucial that you visit a doctor’s clinic and seek treatment as soon as possible so you can be on the road to recovery.

Ready to find the best meniscus tear treatment in Singapore? Don’t delay another day! The orthopaedic knee specialists and doctors here at Ray of Health will create your perfect treatment plan and have you on the way to a pain-free life. We also offer treatment for shoulder pain, heel pain treatment and tennis elbow treatment.

Contact us online, call +65 6235 8781, or connect with us on WhatsApp at +65 8028 4572.

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Singapore 248649

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Medical Centre D #05-60

Singapore 574623

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Symptoms of Meniscus Tear Injuries

  • Limited range of movement in the knee
  • Pain in the outside or inside part of the knee
  • Tenderness at the knee joint
  • Swelling at the knee joint.
  • Feeling of weakness in the knee as if it cannot support your weight
  • Feeling of knee locking or a popping sensation from the knee.

Causes of Meniscus Tear

Meniscus tears are caused by trauma or degeneration because of old age. A doctor can diagnose the exact cause and suggest treatment accordingly.

Types of Meniscus Tears

A meniscus tear injury can manifest in the form of two types of injuries:

torn meniscus diagram

Meniscus Tear- Image Credit: Mayo Clinic

Depending on the appearance, meniscus tears can be classified as follows:

  • Radial tear: A radial tear of the meniscus occurs at the most central part of its C-shape and extends towards its peripheral edges. This part of the meniscus lies in that region of the knee that has no blood supply. Therefore, the chances of a radial tear healing on its own is almost negligible and surgery is the only option.
  • Horizontal tear: A horizontal tear of the meniscus occurs in the central region, splitting the meniscus into upper and lower parts. This happens in the vascular region of the knee where there is some blood flow. Therefore, horizontal tears are often repaired during surgery by stitching the circumferential fibres together. The blood flow in the region ensures a good healing.
  • Bucket handle tear: A bucket handle tear is a vertical, longitudinal tear in the central part of the meniscus. This tear restricts the movement of the knee and the patient feels as if the knee is stuck. Such a tear usually requires surgery to regain the normal bending motion of the knee.
  • Flap tear: A flap tear is the kind of tear in the meniscus that causes some part of the meniscus to be pushed into the joint space causing pain and restriction of motion. Also called parrot beak tears, these tears can cause the meniscus to flap in and out of place. Depending on the severity of the tear, the surgeon may attempt to repair or reconstruct the meniscus.
  • Intrasubstance/ Incomplete tear: Intrasubstance tears of the meniscus happen because of early degenerative changes and wear and tear. This tear is often diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s. These tears are also called stable tears as usually they do not require surgery; they are managed through conservative means.
  • Complex tear: A complex tear involves a combination of multiple tear patterns, for example, horizontal and radial tears together. Complex tears are not generally repaired during surgery because of their complexity. The surgeon may remove some parts of the torn meniscus and repair other parts during surgery.

Apart from their appearance, meniscus tears are also classified according to their location. These include:

  • Central tears: These tears are on the inner side of the meniscus and since there is no blood flow in this region, the tear cannot be repaired.
  • Peripheral tears: These tears are on the outer side of the meniscus and can sometimes be repaired.
  • Posterior horn tears: These tears are on the back of the meniscus. These are the most common types of meniscus tears.
  • Anterior horn tears: These tears are on the front of the meniscus and are less common.

What is the recovery time for meniscus tear treatment?

The recovery time can depend on several factors including the extent of injury, the kind of non-surgical or surgical treatment offered, as well as other factors. A young person’s injury may heal much faster as compared to an older person’s. Healing can take anywhere from six to eight weeks for minor meniscus tears that involve non surgical treatments; however, the recovery time after surgery for a meniscus tear can take months depending on the type of surgery. Moreover, the doctor may advise you physiotherapy and strength training to strengthen your core and improve balance for walking and running in the future.

Frequently-Asked Questions About Meniscus Tear Treatment

Athletes and sportsmen are more at risk than the normal population. People who play contact sports that require sudden stopping and pivoting movements, such as football, basketball, and volleyball, are more prone to injuries. Some people may get this tear while lifting heavy objects or squatting. Another group of individuals who are at risk are older people with a degenerative condition. In such individuals, injuries can occur even with everyday movements like standing up from a chair. Generally speaking, the risk of meniscus tear injuries increases as one gets older and older.

About the Author

Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

Dr James Tan C H

Dr James Tan is a highly skilled orthopaedic surgeon in Singapore who has more than 10 years of experience in sports injury surgery and exercise medicine. Apart from partnering with the industry to pioneer advanced and proven treatment techniques, Dr Tan has treated athletes from the Singapore National Teams and professional footballers from the Singapore Premier League and the Young Lions. He is a member of the elite Asian Shoulder and Elbow Group and a founding member of the Singapore Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Society.