Each of your knee joints contains two crescent-shaped cartilage discs known as the menisci. The menisci act as shock absorbers between your thigh and shin bones, preventing them from rubbing against one another at the joint.
The lateral meniscus is located on the outside of your knee joint, while the medial meniscus is closer to the inner part of your leg. You’re more likely to tear the lateral than the medial meniscus. Especially prone to tearing is the inner portion of the lateral meniscus, which is thinner than the outer portion.
Meniscus tears are common in people of all ages, but are more likely to occur as you get older and your tissues begin to degrade. Athletes frequently suffer meniscus tears because of the tremendous forces they put on their knees while jumping, running, or twisting.
At Urgently Ortho in Scottsdale, Arizona, our team of board-certified orthopedic surgeons and orthopedic physician assistants know that knowledge is the key to preventing meniscus tears Here they share a few reasons why meniscus tears are so common, and how you can avoid them.
When you move upright, your knee carries the load of your body, and more. Due to the effects of gravity, taking a simple step puts 1.5 times your body weight on your knee joint. If you’re obese, that number might be three times your body weight.
Any extra impact on the knee — jumping, running, or dancing — increases the load. High-impact exercises such as jogging or jumping are the equivalent of carrying two to three times your body weight. If you’re a professional athlete or gymnast, that number’s even higher.
Help your knee carry its load and avoid meniscus tears by strengthening the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Ease the stress on your knee by:
Our experts might fit you with a knee brace or recommend taping your knee while in recovery or to support it.
Simply walking, climbing stairs, and bending put wear and tear on your knee joints. Over time, the constant friction wears down your menisci, making them more susceptible to tears.
You can help keep your cartilage in shape by nourishing your body with whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Stop smoking, which degrades all of your tissues, including your menisci. Increase circulation to your knees and menisci with massage therapy and regular exercise.
If your cartilage is already degraded and at risk for further injury, ask us about regenerative medicine, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy. A regenerative medicine treatment helps your body repair and restore damaged tissue, including the menisci.
One of the more common ways to tear a meniscus is to land on your foot while your leg or knee is twisted. The torque from the twist easily rips your cartilage. If you engage in manual labor or play sports, you may be using your knees in a way that increases your risk of twisting and tearing a meniscus.
To prevent injuries and help you heal from a meniscus tear, come in for an evaluation. Our experts evaluate the way you move your legs and knees when performing daily motions, such as walking and jumping. They then make recommendations to modify your posture or the way you move so that your knee is better aligned and at less risk for twisting.
You may also have a foot-alignment problem that’s affecting your knee. We may recommend custom orthotics that realign your foot bones so that your knee bone is better centered, too.
If you have a meniscus tear or knee pain, contact us today by calling 480-531-6007 or using our convenient online booking tool.