SCINQ Guide to Baseball Injuries: Torn Meniscus

Condition: A torn meniscus should be as familiar to sports fans as muscle strains. It is an injury to any one of two C-shaped fibrocartilage discs found in the knee. Each meniscus cushions the tibia and the femur where they meet at the knee and prevents bone on bone contact. Taken together, they also stabilize the joint.

Tears can be anything from a slight tear (Grade I) to medium (Grade II) to major tears (Grade III) where the cartilage splits so much that bone hits bone. In this case, the knee can lock up, preventing any movement at all. Slight tears can also grow larger as a result of getting caught on moving parts and tearing a little more at a time. A torn meniscus can occur with sudden changes in direction. It also tends to occur in conjunction with anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Symptoms: A sudden pop is often felt while suffering a torn meniscus. It will result in pain in the knee, swelling, difficulty bending or straightening, and on occasion locked limbs. In terms of baseball, the symptoms will severely limit a batter’s ability to pivot (swing), run bases, and slide.

Diagnosis: A torn meniscus must be diagnosed by a doctor. Sometimes X-Rays are done to check for bone damage. An MRI is used to diagnose severity.

Treatment: Treatment of Grade I tears can consist of rest and physical therapy. Anything worse usually entails arthroscopic surgery. Stitches are seldom used to heal tears, though it would seem the most effective. However, since there is very little blood flow to the cartilages, physically bringing the torn sides together rarely works. The procedure to clean a tear is called a meniscectomy.

Rehab: Rest followed by physical therapy.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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