Richard Stockton College Athletic Training
Common Athletic Injuries
 Following is some information on injuries that athletes frequently encounter.
It is brief and to the point, not a detailed medical analysis of an injury.  Therefore use
the information accordingly.

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Fast Facts:

MCL: Runs from the femur to the tibia on the inside of the knee.

ACL: Sits inside the knee joint and stabilizes the femur and tibia from moving forward and backward

: The large muscle in your calf.

MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Meniscal Tear

By Kristin Camm, MAT, ATC. Kristin is an Athletic Trainer here at Stockton. She completed her Bachelors Degree in Athletic Training at West Chester University and her Masters of Arts in Teaching Degree at Montclair State University.

What is it?
The menisci are two oval shaped pieces of cartilage that sit in the knee joint and cushion any stress placed on the joint. It also keeps your femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone) from grinding against each other. The "Medial Meniscus" sits on the inside of the knee and the "Lateral Meniscus" sits on the outside. The medial meniscus is C-shaped and the lateral meniscus is an O-shape. The outer 1/3 of the menisci have a good blood supply, but as you go to the inside, the blood supply becomes less. Depending on the mechanism of injury, the type and placement of the tear will be different.

It hurts where?
If you tear your meniscus, your pain will be in the area of the tear. It will be along of the knee joint line, which is where the femur and the tibia come together. The tear can be in the front of the knee, the back or even the sides but it is always located at the joint line.

How does it happen?
A meniscus tear may be caused by twisting the knee, pivoting, cutting or decelerating. In athletes, meniscal tears often happen in combination with other injuries such as a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) or MCL (medial collateral ligament). A meniscal tear is usually a non-contact injury.

Injury Progression
A meniscal tear will usually present with a pocket of swelling directly where the tear occurred. If you continue to play without treatment, the entire knee joint may swell or a fragment of the meniscus may loosen and drift into the joint, causing it to slip, pop or lock-your knee gets stuck, often at a 45-degree angle, until you manually move or otherwise manipulate it to unlock. At this point, surgery is the most likely option to get you back to play.

Similar injuries
Meniscal tears can be confused with a few different things. One is a gastrocnemius tear at its origin at the back of the knee. Another is a hamstring tendon strain also at the back of the knee where the hamstring tendons cross right before they attach below the knee joint. Ligament tears may also be confused with a meniscal tear or may be associated with one. It is not uncommon to tear the medial meniscus when you tear your MCL or ACL or even both.

The treatment of a meniscal tear will begin with ice, electric stimulation and rest. A visit to the orthopedist usually happens next with an MRI being prescribed. If there is a tear, it will show up on the films, in most cases. If the tear cannot heal on its own, surgery may be the best option. Rehabilitation exercises will help strengthen the musculature and help stabilize the knee. A very small percentage of meniscal injuries can be treated through rehab and without surgery for athletes. Occasionally, an athlete can postpone the surgery until the season is completed, depending on the severity of the tear.

Participation Status
Most people cannot participate at the varsity athletic level with a meniscal tear. Some people are able to if the tear is small and there is little swelling associate with it. Many people experience a popping, clicking and/or locking sensation that is painful or too irritating to continue to play. Once the tear has been fixed or removed it will take 3-6 weeks of rehab to get back into play, it is not necessarily a "season ending injury."
Questions or comments regarding the Athletic Training Pages should be directed to 
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