The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that provides a buffer or cushioning between bones. One of the most common injuries associated with the meniscus is a tear. A common place to get a meniscus tear is the knee.
A severe meniscus tear that affects the knee is the bucket handle tear. It is an injury that causes swelling and pain and can significantly hamper mobility, flexibility, and strength in the knee. The bucket handle tear is most common among young men and requires the attention of an experienced and knowledgeable physician because it can be difficult to treat.
A Bucket Handle Meniscus Tear
Your knee has two menisci: medial and lateral. Both of the menisci work together to take the pressure off the knee joint. When a bucket handle tear occurs, one of the menisci suffers a full-thickness tear. The edges of the torn meniscus flip over like that of a bucket handle, thus the name. In some cases, the edges of the torn meniscus can flip and roll over and get stuck in the knee joint. A bucket handle tear most often affects the medial meniscus.
The most common symptom of a bucket handle tear is a pain in the knee. The pain can be localized in the specific part of the knee where the tear occurs or can be felt throughout the knee. While it is common to feel severe pain after a bucket handle tear, some people may feel moderate pain – it all depends on your individual pain tolerance. Other symptoms include stiffness and swelling in the knee. You may also be unable to bear weight on the knee and feel a popping sensation when you move it.
In most cases, a bucket handle tear requires surgery to correct. However, if you are not feeling significant pain after a tear, your doctor may not recommend surgery.
Because it is a full tear and the edges of the torn meniscus fold-over, the correction will most likely require a surgeon to open the knee, correct the position of the meniscus tissue and sew the parts back together. In some cases, the torn meniscus cannot be repaired. In such a situation, the surgeon will remove the damaged meniscus.
The recovery from a bucket handle tear surgery can take several weeks. After surgery, you will need to refrain from putting weight on the knee while it heals. You will most likely require the use of crutches and will have to wear a knee immobilizing brace. Following the healing period, you will need physical therapy for several weeks to strengthen and increase stability, mobility, and flexibility in the knee. The overall recovery process will most likely be between 4 to 6 months.
Orthopedic Care in St. Peters and O’Fallon, MO
If you have suffered a meniscus tear or are experiencing pain symptoms in a joint, you should see an orthopedic physician or surgeon to get diagnosed and treated.
At the Advanced Bone and Joint Center, we use state-of-the-art technology to treat our patients and improve their quality of life. To make an appointment, call us at (636) 229-4222 or book an online appointment.