Meniscal Tear

What is a Meniscal Tear?

The meniscus is one of the C-shaped pieces of cartilage in your knees. A meniscal tear is an injury to one of these pieces of cartilage.

How Does it Happen?

You can tear your meniscus by kneeling, squatting, or lifting something heavy. You can also tear it when you forcefully rotate or twist your knee, such as while playing basketball, tennis, or other sports.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Usually, if you have a torn meniscus, you will experience some of these symptoms:

  • Stiffness or swelling of the knee
  • A popping sound in the knee
  • Pain when you twist your knee, or even when walking or bearing weight
  • Difficulty straightening your knee

How is it Diagnosed?

If you're having knee issues, your doctor will perform a physical exam to see how your knee moves. He or she may also use an x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the condition of your knee.

How is it Treated?

In some instances, you can treat a meniscal tear with rest, avoiding activities that aggravate the condition. You can also use a knee brace to give the joint more support, and you can take over-the-counter pain relievers. Ice packs can help reduce swelling.

Your doctor may suggest physical therapy, which will teach you exercises to strengthen your knee and the muscles around it. In some cases it may be necessary to have arthroscopy to repair the tear.

What is the Prognosis?

If you have surgery to repair your meniscus, recovery time can be a week or two. You may need to use crutches as your regain movement in your knee. Otherwise, your prognosis is reliant on your ability to rest and exercise your knee as needed. Talk to your doctor about the best approach.