The meniscus is fibrocartilage in the knee joint that stabilizes and protects the cartilage and bones. There are two menisci in each knee, one on the outside and another on the inside. When the knee twists or is pushed out of position, it can result in a torn meniscus. Repetitive injuries and deterioration can also cause micro-tears in the meniscus. Learn more about how to tell if you have a torn meniscus and the treatment options available.
Symptoms of a Torn Meniscus
Some people can have a torn meniscus for months and have no symptoms. However, most people with a torn meniscus will experience pain and other symptoms when there is damage to one of the menisci. The symptoms can vary depending on where the tear occurs and the severity of the damage to the rubbery fibrocartilage. These symptoms include:
- Popping or clicking in the knee
- Knee pain which may be worse when bending to sit, stand up, or squat
- Pressure against the knee causes pain or tenderness
- Swelling in the front or behind the knee
- Limited range of motion
Some people know exactly when they injured the meniscus in their knee. Others may have no idea when they injured their knee and caused damage to the meniscus.
Causes of Torn Meniscus
Most severe tears to the meniscus are caused by a quick twist of the knee or from impact to the knee or leg. Contact sports, weight lifting, and vehicle accidents can all cause a torn meniscus from trauma to the knee. More minor tears can occur from repetitive squatting, knee bending, or degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis.
Treatment for Torn Meniscus
Even if you do not have initial symptoms from a torn meniscus, it can cause pain and discomfort over time. The changes in the knee’s stability can increase your risk of arthritis and joint damage. Most meniscus tears will not heal independently and require surgical repair, usually accomplished with knee arthroscopy and a meniscus repair or partial meniscectomy.
During knee arthroscopy, a tiny camera is inserted through incisions made in the knee. This allows the surgeon to see inside the knee and view the torn meniscus. When possible, a meniscus repair is completed. This procedure uses sutures to reconnect the torn edges of the meniscus and remove any fragments. If repair is not possible, the damaged meniscus material is removed with a partial meniscectomy, leaving as much healthy meniscus as possible.
You should seek medical treatment if you believe you have a torn meniscus. Most torn meniscus will not heal on their own, and they can contribute to faster deterioration of the knee joint, impacting your comfort and mobility. Contact our team at Robotic Joint Center in NYC. We can schedule a torn meniscus exam and consultation with our world-renowned knee joint orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Fredrick F. Buechel, Jr.