Knee + Leg

Meniscus Injuries


The meniscus is a "C" shaped cushion found between the thigh (femur) and the shin (tibia) bones on both the inside and outside. A healthy meniscus takes an injury to tear. A meniscus that is already brittle (degenerative) can be torn more easily with daily activities. Many people live with a torn meniscus and only experience occasional pain.

  • Occurs with an awkward twist
  • You may feel a pop when you tear a meniscus
  • Most people can still walk on their injured knee
  • Pain with swelling
  • Catching or locking of your knee
  • Instability or giving away of the knee

When you are first injured, the RICE method - rest, ice, gentle compression and elevation - can help speed your recovery and reduce pain.


The diagnosis can be made by a physical examination. X-rays are also commonly performed to rule out a bone injury. An MRI can be helpful to confirm the injury as well as to look for damage to other structures within the knee.

Treatment Options

If a meniscus tear is suspected, your doctor may initially recommend physical therapy and medications. A symptomatic tear is usually treated with arthroscopic surgery. A few small incisions are made on the knee. Your surgeon uses a camera to look inside the knee and tools too work on the meniscus. Most meniscus tears occur on the edge and will not heal. These tears are trimmed out, leaving behind only healthy meniscus. The most common tear that can be repaired occurs in teenagers and young adults. A tear at the attachment (root) of the meniscus may also require repair. This type of tear is thought to be an early form of arthritis.

You are able to go home on the day of surgery. Most patients require crutches and can put full weight on the leg immediately after surgery. In some cases, you may be put in a knee brace to limit motion and told to avoid putting weight on the leg to allow the meniscus to heal.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often advised prior to surgery to regain motion, reduce swelling, and strengthen the muscles as much as possible. After surgery, follow the doctor protocols.