There are three bones in the knee, the femur, tibia and patella. The ends of those bones are covered with cartilage (a smooth material that cushions the bone and allows the joint to move easily without pain). The cartilage acts as a shock absorber. Between the bones of the knees are two crescent-shaped discs of connective tissue, called menisci. These also act as shock absorbers to cushion the lower part of the leg from the weight of the rest of the body.
Meniscus tears can happen during a rotating movement while bearing weight, such as when twisting the upper leg while the foot stays in one place during sports and other activities. Tears can be minor, with the meniscus staying connected to the knee, or major, with the meniscus barely attached to the knee by a cartilage thread.
The following are the most common symptoms of a torn meniscus. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of a torn meniscus may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for a torn meniscus may include the following:
Specific treatment for a torn meniscus will be discussed with you by your healthcare provider based on:
Treatment may include:
An untreated torn meniscus can result in instability of the knee, persistent pain, and increase your risk of osteoarthritis.
Call your healthcare provider if your knee: