A meniscus tear occurs when the meniscus (wedge-shaped cartilage in the knee joint) tears. These rips can cause knee discomfort, edema, instability, and limited movement. However, it becomes difficult to differentiate between normal knee pain and knee pain from a meniscus tear

In this article, we’ll go over how to recognize a meniscus tear, try to understand torn meniscus treatment, and how to avoid it in the future. First, let’s understand what a meniscus is.

A healthy knee joint has two C-shaped cartilage-like structures called menisci. The medial meniscus is on the interior section, whereas the lateral meniscus sits on the exterior section of the knee. Generally, each meniscus is smooth, flexible, and rubbery, providing stability and stress absorption to the valuable hyaline cartilage lining the knee joint.

The meniscus serves several purposes. The primary function of menisci is to 

  • Ensure proper cushioning between your femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone) is maintained. 
  • Stabilize the femorotibial articulation.
  • Distribute axial strain.
  • Absorb stress, and
  • Lubricate and nourish the knee joint.

Many factors cause a meniscus tear. Let’s discuss these causes below.

Causes of Meniscus Tear

A meniscus tear occurs when a ligament suffers an injury. Meniscal tears can occur during forceful twists or abrupt knee ligament rotation. Besides, injuries can also occur due to deep squats or heavy lifting.

Aging can be one of the reasons, as the meniscus wears out over time. People beyond 30 are more likely to have knee meniscus tears. Having osteoarthritis also makes you more likely to injure your knee or tear your meniscus.

When a meniscus tear develops, patients typically experience a popping sensation, followed by knee pain, stiffness, and inflammation. The following are common symptoms experienced during knee meniscus tears. The patient might suffer any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Pain.
  • Swelling.
  • Clicking.
  • Catching.
  • Locking.
  • Weakness.

If any of these symptoms last longer than a few days or appear after you’ve hurt your knee, it’s essential to consult a doctor. That said, diagnosing meniscus tears involves following certain steps discussed in detail below.

Diagnosis Of Meniscus Tear

Meniscus tears are diagnosed by following the three steps described in detail below:

  • Physical Examination

A physical knee examination is often the first step in diagnosing a meniscus tear. The medical professional will perform a physical examination and manipulation of the damaged knee to look for symptoms of a meniscus tear and related pathologies. 

The doctor may perform multiple physical tests to identify the affected region and identify a meniscus tear. Your doctor could move your leg in various ways to assess how it moves, feel discomfort, and check for any sore spots. 

  • Imaging Tests (X-ray and MRI)

Several imaging tests, such as X-ray or MRI, are performed to determine the degree of the damage and any underlying conditions that may be causing or contributing to the knee discomfort.

  • Differential Diagnosis

The doctor might also carry out a differential diagnosis along with the general diagnosis. It is done to rule out the presence of any degenerative joint diseases. Individuals suspected of having a persistent meniscus tear may instead have degenerative joint conditions. 

It may include a collateral or cruciate sprain, an osteochondral injury, or a patella-femoral joint condition. If any underlying causes other than meniscus tears in the knee are identified, the treatment will be tailored accordingly.

Non-Surgical Management of Meniscus Tear

Non-surgical options for meniscus tears include rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medicines, icing the affected region, and weight control. Let’s discuss them elaborately below:

  • Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE)

The first step to healing is to rest your knee and avoid engaging in activities that aggravate knee discomfort. You can even employ crutches to prevent putting any weight on the joint. 

You must ice your knee for 30 minutes every three to four hours to release the pain. To relieve inflammation, compress or wrap the knee with an elastic bandage. Elevating your knee at all times possible can help decrease inflammation.

  • Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy can also help improve joint mobility and strengthen knee muscles. Surgery is often the last resort and may be recommended to repair or remove damaged cartilage.

  • Knee Braces

While knee braces can not immediately mend or treat meniscus tears, they can provide additional support and stability to your knee to facilitate the healing process of meniscus tears. A proper brace protects your knee while relieving strain on your meniscus and enabling it to relax.

Surgical Management of Meniscus Tear

While knee meniscus tear treatment has historically been challenging, advances in medical techniques and biological therapies, such as PRP, stem cells, fibrin clots, and cartilage scaffolds, have improved recovery times. 

However, surgery is necessary in cases where the tear is severe or causes instability or locking of the knee. The type of surgery required will depend on the injury’s extent and may involve removing damaged tissue or suturing a larger tear.

Types Of Surgery

The surgical approach suggested by a doctor for a knee meniscus tear is typically determined by several factors, including the tear’s location within the meniscus, the extent of the tear, and its pattern. There are typically three types of surgical procedures performed to address such tears.

  • Meniscus Repair

It involves restoring the meniscus to its original shape rather than removing any part of it.  It benefits surgeons who prefer to repair rather than resect when possible.

  • Partial Meniscectomy

It involves the removal of damaged meniscus tissue. Your doctor may consider this surgery if imaging studies indicate the blood supply to the affected area of the meniscus is low or if the tear pattern is irreversible.

  • Meniscus Transplant

If you previously had a significant or severe tear that necessitated the removal of most of the meniscus, your doctor may propose a meniscus transplant. Your surgeon will remove the remainder of the damaged meniscus from the joint and replace it with a meniscus of a comparable size from a donor during a meniscus transplant.

Post-Operative Care

It’s crucial to carefully adhere to your doctor’s post-operative recommendations after knee surgery. A thorough rehabilitation regimen is necessary for your knee to recover properly and regain its range of motion. Following your procedure, you can expect the following recommendations from your doctor:

  • Using crutches to reduce knee stress as it recovers.
  • Using a knee brace to keep the joint stable.
  • Administering medicines for pain.
  • Home rehabilitation exercises to regain range of motion, strength, and mobility
  • RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).


Meniscal injuries are regarded as a substantial source of musculoskeletal morbidity. The menisci’s unique and intricate anatomy makes therapy and repairs difficult for the patient, surgeon, and physical therapist. However, depending on the severity of the knee meniscus tear, the treatment can range from rest and pain management to surgery. 

Early identification and treatment of a meniscus tear are essential for full recovery since they lower the risk of future damage and increase the efficacy of the cure. 

You can prevent the meniscus tears by starting a stretching regimen and ensuring that any knee injuries are identified and treated immediately. Patients with a meniscus tear might anticipate a complete recovery with the right diagnosis and care.

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