Meniscus Tear


In terms of knee injuries and knee pain, a meniscus tear is one of the most common injuries. No matter your age, weight, or how healthy you are, it is possible to experience this injury in your life. There are many potential causes for a meniscus tear, but this injury largely occurs when you rotate or twist your knee sharply when the joint is under strain. This specific action can lead to a meniscus tear.

The knee is one of the most maneuverable parts of the body. Although this allows for an increased range of motion, it also means that it can suffer injuries more easily than other body parts. Your knees are made up of tendons, nerves, muscles, and joints – additionally, each knee has two pieces of cartilage that are C-shaped. These pieces of cartilage cushion your thighbone and shinbone, which means that there may be widespread problems that can occur when you tear either piece of cartilage.

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If you suffer a meniscus tear, you can begin to recognize symptoms within 24 hours of the original injury. Common meniscus tear symptoms include swelling and pain. Additionally, the symptoms may also include:

  • An inability to straighten or bend your knee
  • Stiffness or swelling in the afflicted area
  • Throbbing pain, especially when moving or twisting your knee
  • Feeling as if your knee has become “locked”
  • A popping sensation
  • Feeling as if your knee cannot hold your weight/feeling as if you might fall

If any – or all – of these feelings sound familiar, you should consider reaching out to a medical professional to check on your knee injury. Once a doctor determines the specific knee injury, they will be able to prescribe specific treatment for your individual needs.

Causes and Risk Factors

A meniscus tear is a type of knee injury. As such, if you perform an activity that puts extreme strain on the knee, or if you twist or pop the knee sharply, this may cause a meniscus tear. Sports that require sudden pivoting, turns, or stops, such as basketball, soccer, running, etc. can cause you to experience a meniscus tear.

Additionally, repetitive kneeling, squatting, or heavy lifting can also result in this injury. Older individuals who have suffered knee injuries in the past or who have arthritis or degenerative bone ailments can also experience a torn meniscus, even without an external cause.

People who participate in football, contact sports, or activities that require lots of pivoting (such as tennis), have a higher risk of suffering from a torn meniscus. Young or old, this is an injury that can occur. However, the older you are, the more worn down your knees will become, meaning you’ll be more likely to tear your meniscus.

If you suffer from a torn meniscus, you are more likely to suffer from persistent pain in your knee and you are also more likely to develop arthritis in your later years. Treat yourself well and keep your joints limber to lower your risk of this injury.

A Minimally-Invasive Approach to Knee Repair

A common misconception is that you need a big, open surgery to fix your knee. We use modern, minimally-invasive procedures to avoid this path whenever possible – and many of our patients are up and walking by the next day.

Treatment and Prevention

Keeping your joints and tendons limber via stretching and warming up is a great way to lower your risk of a torn meniscus. If you tear your meniscus, try to stay off your feet as much as possible to give it the best shot of success. Keeping yourself to a healthy weight, wearing supportive gear, and trying to reduce the amount of pivoting you do is also of extreme importance when lowering your risk of a torn meniscus.

Resting and icing the afflicted area are great treatment options if your tear is minor. In most cases, however, treatment should be led by an orthopedic surgeon who can properly assess the condition and state of your knee pain and torn meniscus. There are a variety of treatment options available including pain management injections, physical therapy, sports medicine, and even orthopedic surgery if the knee pain is not responsive to non-surgical treatment options.

Meniscus Tear FAQs

  • A torn meniscus is a common knee injury. The menisci are formed of cartilage and are vulnerable to injury. A meniscus can tear as a result of traumatic injury or wear and tear over time. Signs and symptoms of a torn meniscus include: a popping sensation during an injury, stiffness, swelling, the inability to fully straighten the knee, a sensation that the knee is “locking”, or pain with twisting the knee and/or squatting.

  • A self-test, called the “Ege’s test,” can be performed to check yourself for a meniscus tear. The test involves standing with the feet approximately 12 inches apart, then squatting and slowly standing up. Experiencing pain or a noticeable “clicking” sensation may indicate a meniscus tear.

  • It may be possible to bear weight and walk straightforward with a chronically torn meniscus. However, movements that involve changing direction or twisting and rotating may be quite difficult and painful. Locking of the knee can occur in any case. Continuing to walk on a leg with a torn meniscus can also aggravate the condition, causing increased pain and stiffness over time.

  • There are different types of meniscus tears in the knee, and some have more capacity to improve than others. However, because meniscus tears are linked with an increased risk of disability and knee osteoarthritis, it’s essential to seek a timely diagnosis and prompt treatment.


A meniscus tear might seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be scary. There are good treatment options available and most patients make full recovery and can get back to their favorite activities. Our orthopedic physicians have years of experience helping patients with torn meniscuses. Don’t wait, call today!

Additional Resources

Torn meniscus- Mayo Clinic

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