When left to their own devices, most children run around with abandon, increasing their chances of getting a torn meniscus whenever they make sudden stops and turns or accidentally twist or rotate their knee. The risk for this type of knee injury is especially high for young athletes who participate in sports that involve plenty of pivoting motions like tennis and basketball.
A torn meniscus leads to a persistent knee pain and can even lead to osteoarthristis in the later stages. At the time of injury, a loud popping sound will be heard, followed by swelling and pain afterwards. A “locking” sensation where the knee cannot fully extend or straighten can also be felt at times. There is also the possibility that the knee will give way at times and will not be able to support your child’s weight.
The meniscus is a cartilage that serves as a cushion between the thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia). If the meniscus is injured, conservative treatments such as rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical rehabilitation can be done to give the knee plenty of time to heal on its own.
Pain and swelling will go away in a matter of days; however, full recovery requires a long-term commitment to ensure that the muscles surrounding the knee grows strong. To return the knee to its normal function, your child will need to maintain his or her ideal body weight and avoid activities that can aggravate the tear.
If these initial treatments do not heal the tear, an arthroscopy will be done by a San Diego orthopedic doctor to repair or remove the damaged cartilage. This is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure done to repair the meniscus tear, and has a faster rehabilitation and better outcome than a traditional open surgery.