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Symptoms of a Torn Meniscus

Knee injuries are more than just a bummer. They can put an end to your athletic activity or cause pain every time you try to be active. The meniscus is one part of the knee that tends to be particularly prone to injury.

Most often, when you injure your meniscus, you actually tear it. Are you wondering if your knee pain is caused by a torn meniscus or something else? In this blog, the providers at Wellington Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine explain the symptoms of a torn meniscus and the options for treatment.

What is the meniscus?

The meniscus is a piece of cartilage located in the knee that acts as a shock absorber. Each knee has two of these C-shaped pads, and they help protect your knees from damage when you jump or run. Athletes have a higher risk of sustaining a tear, particularly if the sport requires frequent pivoting or twisting movements.

In some cases, conservative measures ― such as rest and ice ― can allow your knee to heal, especially if the tear is only partial. In other cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.

What are the signs and symptoms of a torn meniscus?

Not surprisingly, pain is one of the most obvious signs of a meniscus tear. And while a torn meniscus is very common, it’s not the only source of knee pain. Other things can cause knee pain as well, such as a dislocated knee or bursitis, which can cause swelling of the joint. If you have some or all the following symptoms, you may have a torn meniscus:

If you have any or all of the above signs, you’ll likely find it difficult and extremely painful to walk or put weight on your knee. 

What are the treatments for a torn meniscus? 

The good news is that almost everyone with a meniscus tear makes a full recovery. When you make an appointment to see one of our providers, your injury will be evaluated. 

Conservative treatments

In most cases, we’ll first recommend a conservative strategy you can implement at home. One treatment we will likely recommend is the RICE protocol. RICE stands for:

We may also recommend anti-inflammatory medications. Furthermore, we may suggest getting physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around your knee.

Surgical treatments

In cases where your knee doesn’t respond to conservative measures, we may recommend surgery. It’s often possible to repair a torn meniscus, especially in children and young adults.

When a meniscus can’t be surgically repaired, we may trim the meniscus to provide a better range of motion. In older adults or in those who also have arthritis, we may perform a total knee replacement, although this is less common.

Most people, especially those who are young and reasonably healthy, can usually undergo minimally invasive surgery and get back to playing their sport within a couple of months.

If you’ve injured your knee, we can give you a thorough evaluation and let you know the type of injury you have. From there we can discuss treatment options and help you get on the road to recovery. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Wellington Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine today.

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