A meniscal tear is a tear in the meniscus. The meniscus is cartilage, which acts as a shock-absorbing structure in the knee. There are 2 menisci in each knee, a medial one on the inside, and a lateral one on the outside.
There are different types of tears depending on the location and how they look. Treatment depends on the severity of the tear.
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Older adults and men are at increased risk. Factors that may increase your risk of:
- Occupations that involve kneeling and squatting
- Climbing stairs
- Previous knee injuries
- Participating in contact sports, such as soccer or rugby
- Poor techniques for jumping, landing, pivoting, and cutting
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Recovery time ranges depend on the severity of your injury. Treatment steps may include:
The knee will need time to heal. Supportive care may include:
- Rest—Activities may need to be restricted at first. Normal activities will be gradually resumed as the injury heals.
- Ice—Ice therapy may help relieve swelling. You may be advised to use heat as you begin to return to normal activities.
- Compression—Compression bandages can provide gentle pressure to help move fluids out of the area.
- Elevation—Keeping the knee elevated can help fluids drain out or prevent fluids from building up
- A knee brace to stabilize the knee
- Crutches to keep extra weight off of the leg
Over-the-counter or prescription medication may be advised to reduce pain.
A physical therapist will assess the knee. An exercise program will be created to help recovery and to stretch and strengthen the muscles.
Repair or removal of all or part of the damaged meniscus may by performed. This is usually done through small incisions of the skin. A camera and special tools are inserted through the incisions.
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.
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a (Torn Meniscus)
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine http://www.sportsmed.org
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org
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Meniscal tears. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00358. Updated March 2014. Accessed February 29, 2016.
Meniscal tears. American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00358pdf. Updated March 2014. Accessed February 29, 2016.
Torn meniscus. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/orthopaedic%5Fdisorders/torn%5Fmeniscus%5F85,P00945. Accessed February 29, 2016.
04/24/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Snoeker BA, Bakker EW, et al. Risk factors for meniscal tears: a systematic review including meta-analysis. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2013; 43(6):352-367.