The menisci lie on the inside and outside of the knee joint and serve as "shock absorbers" between the thigh and the lower leg.
Meniscus injuries are typical knee injuries in a number of sports, they are particularly common, for instance, in football players.
However, half of all meniscus injuries are caused by permanent stresses and strains, above all in occupations that primarily involve kneeling.
The turning movements of the body, with the foot held still and the knee joint flexed, crushes the meniscus causing it to tear or even be torn away from the bone (often the inner meniscus). Ligament injuries in the knee joint are often also combined with meniscus tears, because the traumatic events for meniscus and ligament injuries in the knee are similar.
Quick operation, quick healing
First aid for a meniscus injury consists of cooling the joint and supporting the knee with elastic supports if necessary.
Surgery soon after a meniscus tear gives the best result. Arthroscopic knee operations are seen as the method of choice these days.
The doctor can both examine and immediately operate on the joint through a "keyhole" in the knee. If necessary, the separated parts of the meniscus can be removed; in the case of longitudinal tears, refixation is often successful.
No sporting activities should be pursued for at least one week after the operation.
But after that it is possible to start loading the joint again. The patient is free to play all sports again once there is no longer any pain and the function of the muscles over the front of the thigh and the range of joint movement are satisfactory, which should be accomplished after about six to eight weeks.
Although special rehabilitation measures are not absolutely necessary, treatment always includes exercises for strengthening and loosening the muscles (in particular, the muscles over the front of the thigh).
Orthoses give the knee joint additional stability after the operation and promote proprioception and the healing process.
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