The biggest task I face when seeing a patient for the first time is trying to ascertain if they have a problem which requires surgery. One of the commonest conditions I see is knee pain caused by a meniscus tear. The meniscus acts like a “shock absorber” in the knee. It is important to diagnosis this accurately, especially in those with healthy knees, as a delay in treatment may result in further damage to the knee in future…
Three signs that you may have a torn cartilage (meniscus tear) are:
- Pain along the sides of the joint, or pain in the back of the knee which moves towards the back of the calf. The pain is usually worse when you put weight on the knee. It may be aggravated with twisting movements. Squatting may also cause pain. See also: Knee Pain from a meniscal tear.
- Swelling. This may come and go, and is often associated with activity. If the knee becomes very swollen it will begin to feel stiff. When this happens it is uncomfortable to bend the knee.
- Clicking. Many people have a harmless click in their knee, but if a new click has appeared, this may be significant, especially if it is painful or prevents the knee from straightening (this is called locking). The click is different from a “crunching” type of noise. This is usually associated with another condition in the knee.
What should I do if I have these symptoms?
Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have a torn meniscus (see: Three causes of pain on the inner side of the knee), but a proper examination is recommended. If surgery is needed for a meniscal tear, this can be performed as a day case at Waterfall Hospital in Waterfall/Midrand or at Morningside Mediclinic in Sandton. The operation is done arthroscopically (“keyhole surgery”).
As an orthopaedic surgeon with a special interest in knee surgery, I see and treat many patients who have a meniscus tear. I treat patients at Waterfall Hospital in Waterfall/Midrand and Morningside Mediclinic in Sandton. I also treat patients from many other areas as well, including Rosebank, Sunninghill and Fourways.
Yours in good health,
Dr Warren Matthee
MB BCh (Wits), MRCS (England), MMed (Ortho Surg), FC Orth (SA)