Meniscal Tear



Most meniscal tears are caused by trauma. They may also be caused by the aging process.

Risk Factors

A torn meniscus is more common in men. A tear caused by trauma is more common in active people under 40 years of age. Sports that require pivoting raise the risk of this injury. Examples are basketball, soccer, and football.

Tears caused by aging are more common in people over 40 years of age.



Symptoms may be:

  • Pain and swelling in the knee
  • Locking up, catching, or giving way of the knee
  • A popping sound at the time of the injury
  • Tenderness in the joint


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the knee. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

Pictures may be taken to view the knee. This can be done with an:

  • MRI scan
  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound



The goal of treatment is to ease pain and improve movement. This may be done with:

  • Ice and rest to ease pain and swelling
  • A knee brace to keep the knee from moving
  • Crutches to keep weight off the knee
  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • Exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee

Surgery may be done if other methods have not helped. The damaged meniscus may be repaired or removed.


The risk of a meniscal tear may be lowered by:

  • Strengthening the muscles around the knee
  • Using the right techniques when playing sports
  • Increasing activity levels slowly

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.