CLEVELAND (WJW) — Cleveland Clinic doctors say more people than ever are more active at all ages. While that’s healthy, it means they’re also seeing an increase in knee injuries, especially meniscus tears, said Cleveland Clinic Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Lutul Farrow.
“I felt a lot of tightness in my knee while lifting weights over a few days and heard a loud “pop” while walking across a parking lot,” said Northeast Ohio resident Jennifer Roach.
WHAT DOES THE MENISCUS DO?
Roach’s passions include rigorous mountain hiking, playing sports, and lifting weights but over time her knees took a pounding. She sustained a meniscus root tear which is cartilage that acts like a shock absorber in the knees. It protects the joints in the knee at the ends of the bone, Farrow said.
WHAT LEADS TO A KNEE INJURY?
“Classically, activities and sports that involve twisting or pivoting is the most common mechanism that causes a tear in the meniscus,” Farrow said. “As we get older meniscus tears can happen as a part of the degenerative arthritis process from wear and tear.”
If Roach was going to get back to her first love of mountain climbing it would take surgery and physical therapy. Because Cleveland Clinic doctors perform many meniscus surgeries they were confident Roach would be hiking to the top of the highest mountains in the world again.
HOW LONG IS MENISCUS SURGERY?
Farrow said Cleveland Clinic doctors can now perform many meniscus surgeries arthroscopically in less than 35 to 45 minutes and as an outpatient procedure. Even more complicated meniscus injury surgeries are under an hour.
IS THERE A WAY TO PREVENT A MENISCUS TEAR?
“When participating in sports, proper stretching and warm-up routines can help promote good joint health and decrease injury. I also counsel my patients that proper, well-fitting, and greatly cushioned shoe wear can also help prevent injury,” Farrow said.
“Not all of these injuries can be prevented. Maintaining a healthy weight can help put less pressure and force across the knee joint. that will ultimately lead to better joint health,” Farrow added.
PHYSICAL THERAPY AND RECOVERY
Roach was confident when her doctors told her she would get back to all of her activities but it took plenty of physical therapy.
“I started physical therapy with PT specialist Amy Bell even before my surgery and continued working with my physical therapist after surgery,” Roach told Fox 8 News. “It was a challenge to be non-weight bearing for six weeks but the exercises helped so much to deal with the swelling which caused some soreness. I worked with my physical therapist every week for several months and then bi-weekly for a few months. Then we really focused on building strength and the mobility I would need.”
Roach’s knee was so strong again that she did make it to the top of … Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. She hiked up the mountain for six days to reach the 19,341-foot summit.
“At the summit, we were above the clouds with the sun rising, walking on volcanic ash while looking at glaciers – it almost felt like being on another planet and I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to do it,” she said.
To learn more about a torn meniscus: Causes, symptoms, and treatments you can click here.