Meniscus Tear

Meniscus Tear

File:Meniscus tear 2010 - closeup.JPG

Meniscus Tear

I’m Ed Smith, a Roseville auto accident attorney. Car accidents are an unfortunate risk of driving. Car accidents can range in severity, and some of the most serious car accidents can result in people being pinned inside. When a car is T-boned in the driver’s door, it is not unusual for the driver to have a foot or ankle pinned when the door is crushed. If the car spins or flips, the rest of the body can rotate while the foot is pinned. While this can cause significant injury to the bones in the leg, this rotational force around a pinned foot will also lead to a meniscus tear. While this is common in sports, it is also an unfortunate consequence of many serious car accidents.

Meniscus Injuries

Many people hear about meniscus injuries when associated with ACL and MCL tears. This is referred to as the “unhappy triad” and is commonly seen in football injuries and car accidents. The meniscus serves a very important purpose. It is actually a cartilaginous body that serves as a protective cushion when the bones of the knee move across the bones of the leg. When bones move across each other, they often grind across the surfaces of bones nearby. Without a cushion, this causes severe pain and makes any motion almost impossible.

What are Symptoms of Meniscus Injury?

Symptoms of a meniscus injury center around difficulty with movement of the knee without severe pain. Specifically, when patients try to rotate the lower leg around a stationary upper leg, this movement will result in severe pain. In addition, patients will also notice severe swelling of the knee due to the torn meniscus. This swelling might feel warm and will also make it challenging for anyone with a torn meniscus to walk.

What is the First Step in Diagnosing a Meniscus Injury?

Like any medical diagnosis, the first step is always a physical exam. The physician will take note of any swelling or discoloration around the knee along with any pain. The physician will also ask the patient to attempt to walk, which will be difficult with a torn meniscus. The key physical exam technique will start by asking the patient to lay on their stomach. The physician will take the injured leg and hold it at a 90 degree angle, with the lower leg pointing towards the ceiling. The physician will then press the lower leg back towards the floor and rotate the leg in a pepper grinding fashion. For anyone with a meniscus tear, the pain will be severe without the cartilaginous cushion and virtually confirm the diagnosis. Most physicians will still order an MRI to grade the severity of the injury.

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What is the Treatment for a Meniscus Tear?

Treatment of a meniscus tear will always require surgery. The surgery has a high success rate but will require substantial physical rehabilitation similar to other knee injuries. Most patients make a full recovery within six to nine months. There is a risk of re-injury, but it is less than the risk associated with ACL tears.

I’m Ed Smith, a Roseville auto accident attorney. Call me anytime at 916-921-6400 or 800-404-5400 for free, friendly advice.

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Image Attribution: Close up of meniscus tear – Tim1965 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( by way of Wikimedia Commons



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