Meniscus Tear Overview

Meniscus Tear Overview

It is quite common for older people to experience pain in the meniscus. A study found that 60% of people over 65 have had a meniscal tear. Meniscus tears can lead to joint failure if they are not treated. Please continue reading to learn about the symptoms and causes of a torn Meniscus and how to treat it.

What is a Torn Meniscus?

The knee joint is made up of three bones: the patella (kneecap), the shinbone(tibia), and the thighbone (femur). In addition, two wedged pieces of cartilage in the shape of kidneys are located between the femur & tibia. These are called menisci and cushion the knee, provide stability, and protect the joint.

Damaged menisci can no longer absorb impacts and allow for smooth movement. A torn lateral meniscus is on the outside of the knee, while the medial meniscus is in the knee's inner part.


There are many types of Meniscus Tears

Menisci injury is classified based on appearance and geographic location. Here are the various types of a meniscus tears.

Flap Tear

This injury occurs on the meniscus side. It results in a flap when the inner tissues split away from the edge.

Degenerative Tear

Degenerative tears are caused by injury to the menisci, which causes gradually more significant damage around the outside of the meniscus.

Acute Tear

The sudden injury of the meniscus is caused by forceful bending or twisting of the knee. It is more common during sports.

Bucket Handle Tear

A bucket handle tear separates the meniscus' outer edge and inner tissue. The bucket handle shape forms when the meniscus' edge is separated from the rest, and the cartilage and the torn piece lift.

Radial Tear

This type of tear causes damage to one side of the meniscus. It then spreads into the tissue, which is perpendicular to that edge.


Torn Meniscus Causes

What causes a torn meniscus? The most common cause of meniscal tear is a traumatic injury. However, the causes of meniscal tears will guide your treatment decisions.

Sports Injury

Sudden meniscus tear, partial or complete, is most common during sports. A direct impact to the knee's front or side forces the joint to move in the opposite direction. Also, forceful bending, twisting, and direction changes can cause injury. These lead to a menisci tear or anterior cruciate ligament ( ACL) tear.

Degenerative joint conditions

After 50, knee injuries can be more easily linked to a degenerative joint condition such as knee osteoarthritis. OA can also cause a meniscus tear. OA can cause the cartilage in the meniscus to wear unevenly and become less flexible and resilient, making it easier to tear.

Repetitive movements

The cartilage of the knee is affected by age. Bad form, such as squatting constantly or stepping on uneven ground, can cause knee injury. Tears are more common in worn, old, or imbalanced tissues. A torn meniscus may result from a sudden turn or a wrong twist in getting up from the chair.

Torn Meniscus Symptoms

Meniscus tears can cause symptoms that vary depending on the location of the tear, how long it has been since the injury, and your overall health. The following are common symptoms of a torn Meniscus:


This is caused by fluid accumulation at the knee joint. You will feel less mobility if the entire area becomes stiffened and swollen. It is often called "water in your knee."


The location of the tear is usually easy to spot with palpation. However, the pain can often spread throughout the knee when there is movement. Rotating or twisting the knee can cause intense pain.

Clicking or Popping Sensation

Depending on how torn it is, a piece of the meniscus might come off and be able to move into the joint. A snapping or popping sensation is common with meniscus tears. Sometimes, the patient may feel the knee giving out.

Knee locking

You feel like your knee is locked when you move it. If a meniscus fragment is ripped from the disc structure, it can be not easy to straighten your leg while standing or sitting.

Diagnosis for Torn Meniscus

To determine if your knee pain is due to a torn or damaged meniscus, consult your doctor. Before recommending the best treatment for you, your doctor will assess the extent of the injury and determine which meniscus is damaged. These methods will help your doctor diagnose a torn meniscus.

1. Medical History

Your doctor will ask you about your medical history, including the onset of the injury, whether it was over-rotated in the knee, if there was a popping sound and whether there was pain immediately.

2. Physical Examination

To assess your range of motion, your doctor will move your leg in various directions. This will determine if the tear is from the medial or the lateral meniscus. They might also examine the lower body for swelling and strength.

3. MRI Scan

Your doctor may order a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) to determine the meniscal tear's severity, size, and location. It all depends on how severe your symptoms are. This diagnostic test shows clear images of the soft tissue in the knee joint. What does a torn Meniscus look like? An MRI will help you see. An MRI will show your doctor if there are any tears in the meniscus or excess fluid.

Torn Meniscus Recovery Time

It takes six to eight weeks for a torn meniscus to heal completely. It all depends on the method you use to treat your injury. It is always a good idea to begin physical therapy. Before you can resume your normal activities, you'll need to restrain your movement for at least two weeks.

Getting a diagnosis early and using the correct treatment methods like rest, physical therapy, heat with a Sacksythyme's Everywhere Sack and Cold therapy with a cold therapy pack is important to recover fully. As you return to daily life, be sure to follow your doctor's orders. To prevent injury from happening again, you should continue to visit your doctor. A high-quality knee brace protects your knees and maintains a healthy joint.



Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.