General Orthopedics

Meniscus Repair Washington DC

Your meniscus is thin, fibrous cartilage located between the surface of your knee joint. The meniscus acts as a buffer for the cartilage between your thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia). Each knee joint has two (2) menisci. The tear occurs in when there is twisting of the knee tissue, usually from a forceful or rotating motion. Dr. Benjamin Stein specializes in Meniscus Repair Washington DC. He treats many athletes who often tear their meniscus if they are tackled playing football or pivot suddenly on a tennis or basketball court. Did you know that you don’t have to be an athlete to tear your meniscus? Something as simple as standing up too fast from a squatting position can tear your meniscus, also. In the U.S., orthopaedic surgeons treat more than 500,000 meniscus tears every year.

Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms in your knee?

  • Pain (especially when sensitive to touch);
  • Swelling;
  • Stiffness;
  • Difficulty bending your knee;
  • A feeling that your knee is unable to support your weight;
  • Popping or slipping sensation/sound;
  • Locking or catching feeling in your knee.

Athletes and Meniscus Injury

If you play a sport where you turn, pivot, and stop suddenly, then you are more likely to suffer from this common sports injury. Orthopaedists in Washington, D.C. have seen a rise in children tearing their meniscus. Increasingly, children are playing sports earlier than ever before. This is especially true for children and adults in competitive sports, with a focus on one (1) sport in particular. These sports include:

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Tennis

Age-Related Meniscus Injury

As with all things aging, your meniscus weakens, too. If you are over the age of 30, the age-related meniscus tear is more commonplace. Do you have osteoarthritis? If you do, this also puts you at a higher risk of damaging your knee. The pain and stiffness in your knee joint may be caused by the “wear and tear” of aging. Next, the elderly suffer from this injury due to cartilage degeneration. The weaker and thinner your knee cartilage becomes, the more likely it is to tear.

How does Dr. Stein diagnose a meniscus tear?

The first thing you need to do is schedule an appointment with Dr. Stein, right away if you are experiencing one or more of the above-referenced symptoms. Mainly if they are occurring for more than several days. Next, Dr. Stein will perform a thorough physical exam and discuss all of your symptoms. He will test the range of motion of your knee and take a very close look at the area where the meniscus is located on your knee joint.

In some cases, Dr. Stein conducts a McMurray exam to diagnose a tear of the meniscus. The McMurray exam requires you to bend and straighten your knee and try to rotate it as well. If Dr. Stein hears a pop during this test, that is another sign you injured your meniscus. As an orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Stein may feel it is necessary to order the following imaging tests for an accurate diagnosis:

  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound
  • Arthroscopy

Meniscus Repair Washington DC Treatment

First and foremost, Dr. Stein recommends the RICE approach: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Resting your knee helps alleviate the weight on your joint. Which, in turn, helps you to stay away from activities which cause more pain. Icing your knee for thirty (30) minutes every three (3) to four (4) hours is recommended. By wrapping your knee or using a compression bandage, it helps reduce the inflammation. And lastly, elevating the knee is one of the best ways to help the swelling go down. Remember, if you are in pain, do not put your full weight on the injured knee.

In specific injuries, Dr. Stein has patients go to physical therapy so they can strengthen their knee and the surrounding muscles. This helps not only to reduce your pain, but it allows your knee to become more stable and gives much needed increased mobility. All of these therapies are designed to reduce pain, stiffness, and swelling of the knee.

What if I need surgery?

Surgery is a word most people dread especially related to their knee. If Dr. Stein determines that other treatment methods are not working, he may recommend arthroscopic surgery of the meniscus. Arthroscopic surgery involves a small incision in your knee where Dr. Stein puts in a tool and a camera through that incision to repair your torn meniscus. This is a minimally invasive approach to knee surgery and may last anywhere from one (1) to two (2) hours. Generally speaking, you would return home the same day. Your full recovery will take time, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. Dr. Stein estimates total recovery time from a torn meniscus to be approximately six (6) weeks. You will wear a knee brace and be on crutches.