This injury is becoming prevalent in Kenya. Any activity that causes you to forcibly or rotate your knee, especially when putting the pressure of your full weight on it, can lead to a torn meniscus.
Each of the knees has two menisci — C-shaped pieces of cartilage that act like a cushion between your shinbone and your thighbone.
Whenever there is a torn meniscus, one may experience; a popping sound, swelling or stiffness, pain especially when twisting or rotating the knee and difficulty straightening the knee fully or experiencing as if the knee were locked. Your knee may feel unstable as if it is going to collapse.
Sportspersons’ who perform activities involving aggressive twisting and pivoting of knee are at risk of sustaining such an injury.
The risk is high for athletes –especially those who participate in contact sports such as football or sporting activities that involve pivoting like tennis, soccer or basketball. The risk of getting such an injury also increases as one grows older due to the normal wear and tear of the knees.
Often, a torn meniscus can be identified during a physical exam. The health professional may manipulate your knee and leg bones into different positions to help pinpoint the cause of the signs and symptoms. Further diagnosis of the exact problem to rule out possibility of other underlying problems is usually done using an M.R.I. SCAN; to produce images of internal structures. It can create detailed images of both hard and soft tissues within your knee. I have come across many players and other people who ask me why an X.RAY cannot show this problem, the answer is because a torn meniscus is made of soft cartilage and thus it won’t show up on X-rays.
In most cases an arthroscopy can be performed on the knee, this is an advanced form of diagnosing knee problem and as well performing a surgery at the same time if necessary. A special instrument containing camera and light is inserted into the knee via a small incision to examine the inside of a knee.Treatment of torn meniscus begins conservatively first before embarking on any surgical procedure. This involves; Rest. Avoid activities that aggravate your knee pain, especially any activity that might cause you to twist your knee.
The writer is a physiotherapist at SportPesa Premier League (SPL) side Mathare United.