Sports injuries: What is a meniscus tear?

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A meniscus tear often occurs among athletes especially during a hard tackle in football or sudden pivoting movements in the basketball court.

The meniscus is a cartilage piece that provides a cushion in between the femur and the shinbone. There are 2 menisci in every knee joint that can be injured or torn while engaging in activities that place pressure on or rotate the joint. This injury is not limited to athletes though. An individual who rapidly gets up quickly from a squatting position can lead to a meniscus tear.

The treatment options vary from home remedies to surgery depending on the degree of damage on the joint. The common preventive measures include performing exercises that strengthen the leg muscles and utilizing proper techniques during sports.

What are the causes?

A meniscus tear can occur during activities that involve direct contact or pressure from a forceful twisting or rotational motion. An abrupt turn or pivot, extensive squatting or strenuous lifting can result to injury.

Many are at danger for a meniscus tear particularly sports that necessitate abrupt turning and stops such as football, tennis, soccer and basketball.

Meniscus tears are becoming prevalent among children since many are engaging in organized sports at an early age. This is also likely for adolescents who engage in highly competitive sports.

Meniscus tear
A meniscus tear can occur during activities that involve direct contact or pressure from a forceful twisting or rotational motion.

It is important to note that the meniscus deteriorates with age and tears are likely to occur among those over 30 years old. Movements such as stepping or squatting can result to injury among those who have weakened menisci. Individuals who have osteoarthritis face a higher risk for damaging the knee or tearing the meniscus.

Among older individuals who end up with a meniscus tear, it is likely due to degeneration. This occurs when the knee cartilage is weakened and thinner, thus prone to tear.

Indications of a meniscus tear

Once a meniscus tear occurs, there is a popping sound around the joint that is followed by the following:

  • Swelling
  • Pain when the area is touched
  • Difficulty moving the joint or inability to move it in full range of motion
  • Sensation that the knee is about to give away or unable to support the body
  • Feeling that the knee joint is catching or locking

There is also a sliding or popping sensation which is a sign that a cartilage loosened and blocks the joint. If an individual experience any of these symptoms and lasts for more than a few days or present after a knee injury, a doctor should be consulted. If the knee locks and could not be bent after straightening it, a doctor must be consulted as well.

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