Cartilage is a type of soft tissue that cushions your joints. It’s naturally durable, but it’s susceptible to injury and degeneration, leading to joint pain and stiffness. Cartilage in nearly any joint can suffer an injury, but it’s particularly common in the knee.
Torn or damaged cartilage in your knee is called a meniscus tear. Meniscus tears can result from a sports injury or natural age-related degeneration. The injury can have a serious impact on your health and mobility, but it might not appear so serious at first.
Aron Rovner, MD, and our team at New York Spine and Sports Surgery provide comprehensive care for joint injuries, including meniscus tears. We know it can be tempting to put off going to the doctor if your pain isn’t that bad, but ignoring a meniscus tear sets you up for worsening pain and restricted mobility.
The risks of ignoring a torn meniscus
Your meniscus is the C-shaped piece of cartilage in your knee joint. It cushions the bones in your knee as you move, but it can tear with too much stress. Awkwardly bending your knee or suffering a sudden impact could leave you with a painful knee condition that needs proper care.
If you get a meniscus tear and you don’t go to the doctor, you could experience any or all of the following issues.
If you suffer an acute meniscus tear, you might feel a painful “popping” sensation at the time of the injury. However, if your torn meniscus is the result of age-related degeneration, pain may come on more slowly and be less noticeable at first.
Since your torn meniscus won’t heal on its own, the pain may continue getting worse as the tear gets worse. You might experience pain that worsens when you stand or twist your knee. Along with pain, other common symptoms are stiffness and swelling around the joint.
A torn meniscus can significantly affect your knee’s range of motion. While you may be able to bear weight on the affected leg at first, you may experience reduced mobility the longer you wait to seek treatment.
A severe torn meniscus can cause symptoms like:
- Inability to fully straighten your knee
- Inability to fully bend your knee
- Sensation of your knee locking in place
- Sensation of your knee giving out when you stand
Your torn meniscus may make it difficult or impossible to continue your usual daily activities, and ignoring it will only aggravate your symptoms further.
Progressive deterioration is possibly the biggest risk of ignoring your torn meniscus. The injury won’t heal on its own, which means it may continue getting worse without proper care.
For example, a partial tear may continue to worsen until it’s a complete tear. Continuing to walk on the affected leg can aggravate your symptoms, making pain and stiffness worse in as little as a few days.
Plus, suffering a torn meniscus may also increase your risk of complications, like developing osteoarthritis in that knee.
Treat your torn meniscus to avoid complications
If you have knee pain or you suffered a knee injury, don’t ignore your symptoms. Dr. Rovner and our team at New York Spine and Sports Surgery specialize in diagnosing and treating all types of joint injuries, and we work with you to ensure you get relief from your symptoms.
We can diagnose your torn meniscus with a physical exam and diagnostic imaging. We determine the severity of your injury, then create a treatment plan appropriate for your needs.
Many patients are happy to learn that their injury can heal with nonsurgical treatment. Dr. Rovner may recommend rest, icing, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, or a combination of treatments.
For more severe tears, surgical treatment may be necessary. Dr. Rovner offers minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to repair your torn meniscus, and our team works with you during recovery to minimize potential complications.
Don’t ignore your torn meniscus. Contact New York Spine and Sports Surgery online or call one of our offices in Garden City, New York, or Fair Lawn, New Jersey, to schedule your appointment.