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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
To diagnose a torn meniscus, your child’s orthopedic specialist will take a medical history and perform a physical exam on your child. The doctor will check for pain along the joint line, where the meniscus lies. He or she will conduct what’s called the McMurray Test, in which the knee is bent, then straightened and rotated. The tension on a torn meniscus from this manipulation will cause a clicking sound.
To confirm the diagnosis with detailed images of the injury, the doctor may also use:
Initial self-aid for a torn meniscus usually involves rest, ice, compression and elevation, otherwise know as RICE, as well as medications to help control pain and swelling.
If your child's knee is stable and does not lock, the RICE formula, combined with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication, may be all that's needed to treat the torn meniscus. Blood vessels feed the outer edges of the meniscus, giving that part the potential to heal on its own. So, small tears on the outer edges often heal themselves with rest.
Additional measures to support this conservative approach to treatment can be:
If your child's meniscus tear doesn't heal on its own and the knee becomes painful, stiff or locked, it may need surgical repair. The goal of meniscal surgery is to obtain a stable, smooth rim of meniscal tissue that doesn't rub abnormally on the cartilage surfaces of the knee. (Patients may still have an increased risk of arthritis in the knee after a meniscal tear, even if surgery is performed.)
Depending on the type of meniscal tear, whether your child also has an injured ACL, your child's age, general health and other variables, the surgeon may recommend surgery using an arthroscope to:
The good news is that 98 percent of patients with simple meniscus tears are able to return to sports and regular activities without knee instability. After your child’s knee has healed, and after the strength and stability have returned through physical therapy, he or she should be able to return to previous sports and activities — usually within six months.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”