A torn meniscus can be a painful, debilitating injury. Even worse, your injury may be the result of a violent car crash or work accident, leaving you unable to drive, work efficiently or pursue daily activities or hobbies you enjoy.
A severe knee injury may require expensive surgery and physical therapy, which you can’t afford. If the insurance company is giving you trouble, contact Gary Martin Hays & Associates for a free consultation to review your options and your rights.
Meniscus Tear Causes
The medial and lateral menisci are two C-shaped pieces of cartilage that act as cushions between the shinbone and thighbone (meniscus comes from the Greek words mēniskos ‘crescent’ and mēnē ‘moon’).
A tear can happen due to trauma caused by a sudden twist or hyper-extension/flexion of the knee joint. Knee injuries can also occur while kneeling, squatting or lifting something heavy.
Age and obesity can increase a person’s risk of suffering a torn meniscus.
Types of Meniscus Tears
There are four main ways a meniscus can become injured:
- Bucket handle tear - Cartilage looks O-shaped instead of C-shaped
- Flap tear - A rip or split that causes part of the meniscus to become slightly detached
- Radial tear - A partial or complete tear that bisects the cartilage
- Degenerative tear - The meniscus looks worn away or shredded in places
Meniscus Injury Symptoms
It may or may not be obvious when a knee joint has been injured. You might feel a pop when the meniscus tears. Some people are still able to walk on the injured limb. Signs that you’ve torn your meniscus include:
- Lack of stability (giving way)
- Limited motion
Without treatment, pieces of the meniscus may come loose and jam the knee joint.
Treating a Torn Meniscus
Standard treatments like ice, rest, and over-the-counter pain relievers are sometimes enough to help the injury heal on its own. Severe tears, especially those that are large, unstable or cause locking, may require surgical repair.
A doctor may order an X-ray to make sure nothing is broken or fractured or that you have osteoarthritis. An MRI scan provides a more detailed view of the injured cartilage and other soft tissues in and around the knee.
They may also perform the McMurray test. The doctor will bend the knee, then straighten and rotate it. If you have a tear, the tension will cause a clicking sound during the test.
Treatment depends on the size and location of the tear(s). The meniscus can be divided into two “zones”: red and white. The red zone has access to an ample blood supply — if the tear here is small, it can sometimes heal on its own. The white zone on the other hand, which is the largest part of the meniscus, lacks a good blood supply to bring it the necessary nutrients needed to heal.
An orthopedic surgeon may recommend a knee arthroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure used to treat meniscal tears. A tiny camera is inserted through a small incision made near the joint. Images are relayed to a screen so the surgeon can suture or trim the torn portions of the injured meniscus.
One way to speed up recovery, regardless of whether you need surgery, includes following the RICE protocol:
- Rest - Limit movement to walking. Use crutches to help alleviate pain.
- Ice - Cold helps reduce pain and swelling in the early stages of the injury. Ice every 15-20 minutes for three to four hours a day for the first few days.
- Compress - To control swelling, you can try wrapping the knee with an elastic band or knee brace.
- Elevate - Place a pillow or blanket under your heel or leg when sitting or lying down.
Anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce the pain and swelling but can have side effects. Your doctor may recommend a physical therapist to visit or exercises to do at home to stretch and strengthen the leg and joint.
When Does the Knee Fully Recover?
Recovery time varies depending on the severity of the tear and how well a person heals. Rehabilitation after surgery can take anywhere from three to eight weeks.
It may be tempting to return to old activities that involve running or jumping, but doing so could re-aggravate or re-injure your knee. You shouldn’t return to pre-injury levels of activity until you can do the following:
- Fully bend and straighten the knee without pain
- Feel zero pain when walking, jogging, sprinting or jumping
- Sense the injured knee feels the same as the uninjured knee
Knee Injury Lawyer - Gary Martin Hays & Associates
Maybe you injured your knee at work while lifting boxes or fell and twisted it due to unsafe working conditions. Perhaps you were driving or walking when you were suddenly struck by a vehicle. Now you’re in the emergency room or talking to a doctor, in pain and worried about medical care.
Our Atlanta personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers are available to help. We make sure the insurance company is treating you fairly and that your claim is taken seriously.
Knee injuries can be painful and frustrating, costing you time, money, and work opportunities. Dealing with the insurance company and their layers of bureaucracy is another burden you shouldn’t have to deal with on your own.
Give Gary Martin Hays & Associates a call. Our team of experts has handled many cases involving knee injuries, including meniscus tears, sprains, and complete knee replacements.