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Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear

If you have torn your meniscus, you may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Popping sensation in the knee at time of injury
  • Inability to fully extend the leg
  • Pain and swelling
  • Catching or locking of the knee
  • Difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg

Causes of a Meniscus Tear

There are two main types of meniscus tears:

Acute Meniscus Tear

This kind of tear usually occurs during contact or non-contact sports, most often from a pivoting, twisting, or cutting motion.

Degenerative Meniscus Tear

In older adults, a degenerative meniscus tear can take place due to a weakened or aged tendon. This type of tear can occur with little to no trauma.

Diagnosing a Meniscus Tear

The first step in diagnosing an ACL tear is a physical examination of the knee to determine locations of pain and your range of motion. Your initial assessment will often include the use of a diagnostic test known as McMurray’s test. McMurray’s test is an examination technique in which you lie on your back, and your physician rotates and extends the knee to 90 degrees of flexion. If a clicking sensation accompanied by pain is experienced during this test, it is considered a “positive McMurray test,” meaning that there is likely a tear in the meniscus.

Once the McMurray test is performed, your physician will likely recommend the use of diagnostic imaging tests to determine the presence of any bone fractures and the extent of the damage to your meniscus. Standard diagnostic tests include:

  • X-rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Ultrasound

Treatments for a Meniscus Tear

Meniscus tears have different treatment options, depending on

  • Extent of tear
  • Your age
  • Your level of activity and lifestyle
  • Related injuries to the region
  • Severity of symptoms

Surgery may remove or repair the torn meniscus, but fortunately, not every meniscus injury needs surgery. Before recommending surgery, your sports medicine specialist at Performance Sports Medicine Institute may suggest:

  • RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation
  • NSAIDs: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Physical therapy
  • Wearing a knee brace
  • Platelet-rich plasma injections

For a more severe meniscus tear, there are currently three primary surgical interventions:

Arthroscopic Repair

In this procedure, your orthopedic surgeon will repair the meniscus in a minimally invasive surgery called an arthroscopy. In a knee arthroscopy, specialized endoscopes transmit the view of your internal structures using fiber-optic technology.

Partial Meniscectomy

In this procedure, your physician will remove the part of the damaged meniscus so that your knee can return to previous function.

Meniscal Reconstruction

This procedure is the last resort for partially or entirely ruptured menisci that do not respond to conservative treatment. The aim of this procedure is to place a functional meniscus that is anatomically and structurally similar to the original meniscus so as to restore stability.

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