Meniscus Tears


A knee meniscus tear refers to an injury that occurs in one of the menisci of the knee joint. The menisci are C-shaped, wedge-like pieces of cartilage located between the thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia) in each knee. These structures act as shock absorbers, help distribute weight across the joint, and provide stability to the knee.

Meniscus tears are common and can happen due to various reasons, including traumatic injuries or degenerative changes over time. The two menisci in each knee are the medial meniscus (located on the inner side of the knee) and the lateral meniscus (situated on the outer side).

Clinical Presentation

The clinical presentation of a knee meniscus tear can vary depending on the severity of the tear, its location, and the individual’s overall health. However, there are some common signs and symptoms associated with meniscus tears:

  • Pain:
    Pain is a prominent symptom, often felt along the joint line on either the inner (medial) or outer (lateral) side of the knee, depending on the tear location. The pain may be acute, especially if the tear is the result of a traumatic injury, or it may develop gradually with degenerative changes. 
  • Swelling:
    Swelling around the knee joint is a common response to a meniscus tear. The swelling may occur relatively quickly after an injury or develop more gradually over time. 
  • Joint Locking or Catching:
    Some individuals may experience episodes of the knee “locking” or “catching” during movement. This can occur if a torn piece of the meniscus interferes with the normal motion of the knee joint. 
  • Limited Range of Motion:
    A meniscus tear can lead to a reduced range of motion in the knee. Individuals may have difficulty fully extending or flexing the knee, and they may feel stiffness. 
  • Clicking or Popping Sensation:
    Some people with meniscus tears report hearing or feeling a clicking or popping sensation in the knee during certain movements. 
  • Instability:
    The knee may feel unstable or give way, particularly during weight-bearing activities. This instability can contribute to a sense of unsteadiness.
  • Pain with Weight-Bearing Activities:
    Pain may worsen with activities that involve weight-bearing and twisting or pivoting of the knee, such as walking, running, or participating in sports. 
  • Difficulty Squatting or Kneeling:
    Activities that require bending the knee deeply, such as squatting or kneeling, may be particularly challenging and painful.

It’s important to note that while these symptoms may be indicative of a meniscus tear, they can also be associated with other knee conditions. 

Treatment Options

The treatment of knee meniscus tears depends on various factors, including the type and location of the tear, its size, and the overall health and activity level of the individual. Treatment options may range from conservative measures to surgical intervention. Here are common approaches:

  • Conservative Management:
    • Rest: Taking a break from activities that worsen symptoms helps the healing process.
    • Ice: Applying ice to the affected knee can help reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
    • Compression: Wrapping the knee with a compression bandage may assist in controlling swelling.
    • Elevation: Elevating the leg helps reduce swelling.
  • Pain Management:
    • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Over-the-counter or prescription NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help manage pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Physical Therapy:
    • A physical therapist can design a tailored exercise program to improve knee strength, stability, and flexibility. This may include range-of-motion exercises, strengthening exercises, and functional training.
  • Injections:
    • Corticosteroid Injections: In some cases, a healthcare provider may recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  • Surgical Intervention:
    • Arthroscopic Surgery: For more severe tears or cases where conservative measures are not effective, arthroscopic surgery may be recommended. This minimally invasive procedure involves using a small camera and surgical instruments to trim or repair the torn meniscus.
    • Meniscal Repair: In cases where the tear is in the vascularised outer portion of the meniscus, a repair may be attempted to stitch the torn edges together.
    • Partial Meniscectomy: If the tear is in the avascular inner portion of the meniscus, or if a repair is not feasible, a partial meniscectomy may be performed to remove the damaged portion while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible.

The choice between conservative and surgical approaches depends on several factors, including the individual’s age, overall health, activity level, and the characteristics of the meniscus tear. 

To schedule an appointment with Dr Matthew Evans to discuss your Knee Injury, please contact us by phone – (03) 9529 3820, or email

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