What Is A Torn Meniscus And What To Do If You Have It

November 22nd, 2019 Becki Andrus

Anatomy Of Your Knee

Not only is your knee one of the largest joints in your body, but it is also the most multi-faceted joint. Your knee connects the thigh bone (femur), to the shin bone (tibia). The knee joint also contains your kneecap, which is referred to as the patella. All components within your knee joint assist in the process of allowing you to walk, jump, sit, and squat.

There are also two forms of cartilage that are also located in your knee joint. Articular cartilage provides a cushion for the ends of your bones, while your menisci provide protection for the area between your bones.  This enables the bones to move smoothly against other bones.

The word menisci is also the plural form of the word meniscus. Your menisci are pads of cartilage that are curved. In many cases, they are described as crescent-shaped. One meniscus within this tandem is referred to as the medial, which is located on the inside of your knee. The second meniscus is referred to as the lateral, which is located at the outside of the knee. They are tasked with the responsibility of cushioning the area between your thigh bone and your shin bone.

The outer edge of your menisci is also thick. This supports your knee joints, while also keeping the femur positioned properly. The cushion that your menisci supply will protect the bones from making direct contact with other bones. But if the menisci become damaged, then the smooth process of bones gliding without contact is interrupted. That will cause pain, which is an indication that you have suffered a torn meniscus.

Causes Of A Torn Meniscus

A torn meniscus is one of the more frequent injuries that can occur with the knee. This injury is also the most common reason for knee surgery in the U.S.

If you are involved in an activity that causes you to rotate or twist your knee with a sufficient amount of force, then you are vulnerable to encountering this unwanted condition.

This includes the type of movements that are involved with various contact sports such as football, basketball, and tennis. Sometimes, deep squats, the act of kneeling, or failed attempts to lift heavy items can also result in a torn meniscus.

Your cartilage will lose strength as you experience the aging process. This also increases the likelihood of developing a torn meniscus. Older athletes are particularly vulnerable to the possibility of a meniscal tear, as over 40% of people age 65+ experience this condition.


If you experience a popping sensation during the forceful rotation or twist that that was discussed previously, this is an indication that you may have suffered a torn meniscus. This is also the case if you encounter pain whenever you attempt to rotate or twist your knee.

This is also true if you have swelling or stiffness, along with any difficulty that you might encounter when attempting to straighten your knee. It also applies if you are contending with the sensation that your knee is locked during your attempts to move it. While many individuals might be capable of briefly functioning while a tear exists, the knee will eventually swell and become stiff.


If you are dealing with any of the symptoms that were just mentioned. then it is recommended that you visit a physician. Once you have discussed your medical history and the symptoms that prompted your visit, the doctor will check your knee for any tenderness that may exist in the area where your meniscus is located. This will usually reveal the existence of a torn meniscus.

He or she might also ask you to bend and straighten your knee. If this movement results in a clicking noise, then that is also a signal that you have experienced a tear. Your physician might also order X-rays or an MRI before providing any diagnosis.

If your physician determines that you have a torn meniscus, the treatment plan will be created based upon the specifics of your tear. In some cases, a meniscus issue can be treated with the combination of ice, rest, and maintaining an elevated leg. Anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or aspirin might also be involved in order to reduce swelling and discomfort. When these are the recommended forms of treatment, then the issue can eventually heal.

But in other cases, the likely treatment plan will involve surgery. There are several forms of surgical procedure, and factors that exist with your situation will dictate how your orthopedic surgeon recommends that you proceed.

At Orthopedic Associates We Can Help

If you experienced any of the symptoms that were described previously, or if you have any questions about your knee in general, then we encourage you to visit us at Orthopedic Associates.  We have the expertise and commitment to help whenever you have any questions or concerns, as our collection of board-certified doctors can provide vast knowledge that can only result from their combined 183 years of experience.


This includes our veteran team of knee specialists, whose expertise and dedication is beneficial toward his ability to design an effective plan of treatment for a wide range of foot conditions including:

  • Anatomy of the Knee
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL Tear)
  • Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis) of the Knee
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Fractures of the Tibial Spine
  • Goosefoot (Pes Anserine) Bursitis of the Knee
  • Hamstring Muscle Injuries
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
  • Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury
  • Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury
  • Meniscus Tear
  • Osgood-Schlatter Disease
  • Osteoarthritis of the Knee
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Knee
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Patella Fracture (Broken Knee Cap)
  • Patella Tendon Rupture
  • Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)
  • Patellar Tracking Disorder
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
  • Prepatellar Bursitis (Kneecap Bursitis)
  • Quadriceps Tendon Tear
  • Septic Arthritis of the Knee
  • Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)
  • Supracondylar Femoral Fracture
  • Tibial Fractures
  • Tibial Plateau Fracture
  • Torn Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)


Our orthopedics are highly experienced in performing multiple types of treatments and surgeries for the knee including:

  • Absorbable Antibiotic Bead Treatment for Osteomyelitis
  • ACL Reconstruction
  • Anesthesia
  • Arthroscopic Chondroplasty
  • Aspiration of the Prepatellar Bursa
  • Autologous Chondrocyte Transplantation
  • Bone Cement Injection
  • Cartilage Repair
  • Cold Laser Therapy
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • Fluoroscopic Guided Steroid Injection for Knee Pain
  • Genicular Nerve Ablation (RF Neurotomy)
  • Genicular Nerve Block (G Block)
  • High Tibial Osteotomy
  • Joint Arthroscopy
  • Lateral Release and Medial Imbrication
  • Loose Body Removal (Knee)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Meniscal Transplant
  • Meniscus Repair (Arthroscopic Technique)
  • Microfracture Drilling Procedure for Isolated Chondral Defect
  • Mini Incision Total Knee Replacement
  • Multimodal Anesthesia and Pain Control
  • Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
  • OATS Cartilage Repair Surgery
  • OrthoGlide® Medial Knee Implant
  • Partial Knee Replacement
  • Partial Meniscectomy
  • Patellofemoral Replacement
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injection Ove
  • Popliteal Fossa Block
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Reconstruction
  • Radiofrequency Ablation for Osteoid Osteoma
  • Revision Knee Surgery
  • Revision Knee with Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy
  • Tibial Osteotomy with Closed Wedge/Open Wedge
  • Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy
  • Total Knee Replacement
  • Ultrasound-Guided Injection for Knee Pain
  • Uni Knee Resurfacing
  • Unicondylar Knee Resurfacing
  • Visco-supplementation for Arthritis of the Knee

Visit one of Orthopedic Associates two locations or request an appointment today to be on your way to feeling better.

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