The Meniscus is a cartilage disc that provides shock absorption and stability to your knee joint. Each knee has two of menisci inside.
Athletes and nonathletes can injure the meniscus. It is typically caused by a twisting or rotation motion with the foot planted on the ground. The meniscus may be an isolated injury by itself or occur along with a ligament injury.
What are some things that may suggest you have a meniscus injury?
- Mechanism of Injury – You had a specific rotation or turning incident where you immediately felt pain in your knee.
- Swelling – Mild swelling is seen at the joint line. The knee typically won’t swell as much with a meniscus tear compared to a ligamentous injury.
- Pain – Tenderness when touching the knee at the joint like aka on either side of your knee cap is likely.
Catching or Locking – Your knee gets stuck or “catches” when you try to bend and straighten it or squat down. * This is one symptom that is unique to meniscus tears compared to other knee injuries.
If the meniscus tears in the outer edges, it has the potential to heal on its own because of good blood supply! Even if it does not occur on the outer edges, physical therapy can often help you avoid surgery.
This picture shows the menisci from the back of the knee.
After an acute injury, you can ice your knee for 15-20 minutes and elevate it – laying down with your leg up is the best! Also, don’t be afraid to move it in a pain-free way.
To get it checked out, a physical therapist will perform a series of special tests and measurements to see what appears to be damaged. Depending on the results, the therapist may refer you for an orthopedic surgeon consult and further imaging or create a plan of care for physical therapy management.