Published: June 22, 2011
Updated: June 22, 2011
The meniscus is the tough, rubbery cartilage that absorbs shock between the shin bone (tibia) and thigh bone (femur) and distributes weight across the knee joint.
Meniscus tears are one of the most common knee injuries.
Meniscus tears can be acute due to injury, or chronic due to deterioration caused from age or overuse.
Younger patients active in sports are more likely to have an acute tear caused by a high-force injury. Tears often occur when the knee is hit with direct force, and it twists at the same time.
The most common meniscus tears occur in middle-aged and older people (40+) who have degenerative meniscus that eventually deteriorates and tears, often with very minimal force.
Signs that you may have torn your meniscus include:
A history of the injury and a physical examination are essential for diagnosing a meniscus tear. In the physical exam, the doctor or provider will check for tenderness along the meniscus and listen for sounds of popping or catching.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows the doctor to see the torn tissue and make a better determination about the severity of the tear.
Meniscus tears are treated according to the severity of the tear, which your specialist will diagnose.
Typically, the acute tears often seen in younger, active patients are repairable with sutures and surgery, while the majority of degenerative tears are just partially removed (debrided).
Possible treatments include:
Watch an educational video about meniscus tears.