Meniscus tears are often the very painful result of certain sports injuries. You may have
read about how just last March, Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks was out for six
weeks after a minor tear to his meniscus. While you have probably heard of this type
of knee pain as a result of basketball, football or even skiing injuries, a torn meniscus
can be the result of a range of activities, even those as simple as getting out of your easy
chair. As you get older, the cartilage that is your meniscus wears down, making it easier
to injure your knee. If you tear your meniscus, the treatment of the injury depends on the
severity of the tear.
The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber for your knee. This
cartilage can tear when the bones surrounding your knee slip and tear the cartilage. Ouch.
If the tear to the cartilage is large and severe, surgery may be necessary. The general rule
of thumb is that if the tear is a quarter inch or less, surgery may not be necessary and your
body could heal the tear itself. Another factor in whether or not you will need surgery is
how much pain you are in.
If surgery is indeed necessary, you will need an arthroscopy to fix the tear. This surgery
is fairly minor and is usually an outpatient procedure, however the pain may or may not
subside after surgery. As with any injury, your body is likely to create a pattern of pain
associated with protecting the injured area. For instance, if your knee hurts, you may alter
your gait to relieve your injured knee of some pressure.
I have heard of some cases where after arthroscopic surgery, this pain pattern will persist
because the body still tries to protect the injured area by tensing and squeezing the
nerves in the knee. The result of this is the same pain sensation even though the knee is
mechanically fixed. If, after surgery, your pain persists, then we have to correct those
patterns in an attempt to relieve you of your knee pain and restore your meniscus to its