Meniscus Tears: Truth and Myths

Meniscus Tears: Truth and Myths

The meniscus is a very important cartilage shock absorber in your knee. Tears of the meniscus are one of the most common “injuries” we see and also operate on in Orthopedics. I put the quotes there because a tear doesn’t always occur from injury.

Having a tear on your MRI can be very scary. You worry about the future of your job, your sport, and your career. You start to sweat thinking about potential time off and lost wages. But wait there is hope.

Meniscus tears can be a part of life and not always the source of pain. Especially over the age of 40. Multiple research studies show that meniscus tears show up on MRI in a high percentage of patients WITHOUT pain at all.

If you have an MRI that shows a tear you need to sit with an Orthopaedic Surgeon that is :

1. Willing to listen to you and examine you

2. Look at the MRI carefully him/herself

Then a decision can be made together for your treatment.

Symptoms that may indicate the meniscus IS the source of your pain:

1. Immediate swelling and pain after a twisting injury

2. Locking or catching sensation

3. Joint line tenderness ON THE SAME SIDE as the actual tear on MRI.

Treatment options

If we believe the tear is a source of your pain and you DONT have arthritis (this is a whole other subject) conservative care includes :

1. Rest/wait some time to see if the pain calms down. This is often the best treatment.

2. Anti-inflammatory medication.

3. Physical therapy to restore motion and strength.

Meniscus root repair.


If surgery is recommended it involves using an arthroscope to look inside first and assess the tear. Our goal in patients who are younger and active is to repair the meniscus. Saving it and allowing it to heal is important in protecting from developing arthritis. However, some can’t be repaired and we trim out as little as possible.

The difference for you is that with repair comes limitations for several months – no running, squatting, lunging, etc. This may slow your return to sport and work.

The bottom line is meniscus tears are so common but the treatment should be individualized to each tear and each patient.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.