CNY Orthopedic Sports Medicine, PC: Injury: Meniscal Tear

Injuries and Conditions: Knee: Meniscal Tear

The meniscus acts as a shock absorber between the end of the thigh bone (femur) and the top of the lower leg (tibia). Injuries to the meniscus can range in severity from a minor tear, complete disruption or a complex fragmentation of one or both of the menisci. Damage to the meniscus reduces the knee's ability to absorb shock or maintain correct positioning of the tibia and the femur.
  • Small tears do not always need to be treated surgically. Physical therapy and other non-surgical treatments may be used to help treat injuries that cause limited discomfort and do not affect the function of the knee.
  • Significant tears require arthroscopic surgery to remove or repair the torn meniscus.
  • A meniscal tear can result from a forceful twisting motion or repeated stress to the knee.
  • Untreated damage to the meniscus can lead to injury of the surrounding cartilage and joint surfaces as the bones begin to wear and move without proper support and positioning.

  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Pain in the knee, sometimes localized to a specific portion of the knee joint.
  • Squatting and deep knee bends are difficult due to the increase in pain as the degree of flexion increases.
  • Occasionally, patients may note locking or popping sensations in the knee associated with swelling.
  • In more significant cases, a large portion of the meniscus may become completely displaced, preventing full flexion or extension of the knee.

  • Contact the Doctor if ...
  • The patient has the signs and symptoms of a meniscus injury.
  • After treatment, the patient experiences increasing pain or weakness in the joint.
  • The patient experiences unexplained symptoms, other types of pain or unexpected side effects from medication.

  • Common Causes of Injury
  • Meniscal tears are usually the result of twists or repetitive rotatory or compressive stress from activities that involve running, sudden stopping, or cutting maneuvers. Occasionally, tears can occur with no trauma, such as when squatting or bending the knee.
  • Sports such as soccer, football, basketball, skiing, or running commonly produce injuries to the meniscus.

  • Expectations of Recovery
  • Following surgery, the patient should be able to return to full activity within four to six weeks.
  • Patients with severe injuries, or injuries that have resulted in additional damage to surrounding knee structures may require additional physical therapy to recover.
  • After severe meniscus injuries, the knee may benefit from more gentle use during activity to prevent re-injury or further damage to the menisci or the surrounding cartilage and bone.


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