Orthopedics

Knee Pain? Learn Meniscus Tear Symptoms

The meniscus, which is a C-shaped piece of cartilage located in the knee, forms a buffer between the bones to protect them. Eventually, wear and tear that occurs with age, a quick twist or over-flexing of the knee joint, can cause the meniscus to tear.

Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear

The meniscus serves as a shock-absorption system, which helps lubricate the knee joint, and limits the ability to flex and extend the joint. If you have experienced a meniscus tear, common symptoms include:

  • A "pop" may be felt at the time of injury
  • Knee joint pain when walking
  • Knee pain in the space between the bones; gets worse when gentle pressure is applied to the joint
  • Locking of the knee joint
  • Recurrent knee-catching
  • Difficulty squatting down
  • Swelling in the knee joint

Preventing a Torn Meniscus: Is it Possible?

“In general, it can happen to all genders and there’s not a great way to prevent it, other than to be kind to your knee,” explains Joseph Thomas MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the TriHealth Orthopedic and Spine Institute.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t still exercise caution as a preventive measure. Sometimes people will experience a small tear that doesn’t need surgical intervention, because they are not really showing symptoms, or, if so, the symptoms are very mild. In these cases, Dr. Thomas suggests avoiding any activities causing the knee pain.

Similarly, always use proper techniques when working out or playing sports.

When to See Your Doctor

While certain symptoms are more subtle than others, Dr. Thomas reminds patients, “Clearly, if someone is having loss of motion, swelling or redness, those are all warning signs that you need to be evaluated.”

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Last Updated: August 13, 2013