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Torn Meniscus: A Quick Review

As a nurse, you will come across patients suffering from various ailments throughout your career. Understanding the conditions, how to treat them, and what patients can do to prevent them is essential. At Fast CE For Less, we create educational guides to help nurses understand different medical situations you may encounter. By reading these guides, you can become better equipped to help your patients and provide essential patient education to improve outcomes.

Today’s guide will discuss one of the most common knee injuries people face: a torn meniscus. From discussing what a torn meniscus is, to understanding how to treat the injury, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about nursing considerations for torn meniscus injuries.

What is a Torn Meniscus?

Each knee has two pieces of C-shaped cartilage that cushion the joint between the thigh bone and shinbone, preventing the two from rubbing against each other. The medial meniscus is the cartilage sitting on the inner portion of the knee, and the lateral meniscus is located on the outer portion of the knee. A torn meniscus injury happens when the knee forcefully rotates more than it should. This injury typically occurs in the knee of athletes who put their full weight on the knees.

A torn meniscus results in pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the knee. It is also possible for a torn meniscus to result in a person being unable to extend their knee fully.

What are the Symptoms of a Torn Meniscus?

If a person tears a meniscus, the inflammation and pain can take 24 hours or longer to develop, particularly when the tear is small. If a person suffers from a torn meniscus, they may experience several symptoms, including:

  • A lot of pain when rotating or twisting the knee
  • A popping sensation
  • Difficulty in extending the knee fully
  • Limping
  • Stiffness in the knee
  • Swelling in the knee
  • The knee feels locked in place on attempts to move it

Treating a torn meniscus is possible. However, it is essential to address the issue immediately. If a person fails to treat the torn meniscus, a part of it can break off and lodge itself into the knee joint. If that happens, the person may require surgery to restore their knee. Untreated torn meniscus injuries can also increase in size and lead to issues like arthritis.

Treatments for Torn Meniscus Injuries

Since a torn meniscus injury’s symptoms resemble those of other medical conditions, it is essential to seek expert help to diagnose the issue. A healthcare professional may diagnose a torn meniscus via a physical exam. Besides a physical exam, a healthcare professional may order an X-ray or MRI to confirm whether a person is suffering from a torn meniscus.

Treating a torn meniscus may begin with conservative methods, depending on the location and severity of the injury. The most common regimen to treat a torn meniscus is RICE, i.e., rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Physical therapy may also be recommended by the doctor to strengthen the muscles around the knee, allowing better support and stability for the knee joint.

If the tear is extensive, the healthcare professional may recommend surgical intervention on the affected knee. Oftentimes, it is possible to repair a torn meniscus. If the surgeon cannot repair the tear, they may surgically trim the torn meniscus to prevent further deterioration.

As a nurse, offering patients education on various medical conditions is an essential part of your job. Additionally, you must stay current with the latest developments in healthcare to help improve patient outcomes and renew your credentials. To renew your license as a nurse, you must complete a required number of contact hours through nursing continuing education courses. If the time to renew your license is near, online nursing CEUs like those offered at www.fastceforless.com offer an affordable, flexible, and convenient option for you to consider.

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