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Meniscus tears are among the most common knee injuries. Athletes, particularly those who play contact sports, are at risk for meniscus tears. However, anyone at any age can tear a meniscus. When people talk about torn cartilage in the knee, they are usually referring to a torn meniscus.

OrthoConnecticut’ team of board-certified, fellowship-trained knee specialists have a great deal of experience treating and repairing meniscus tears. We offer state-of-the-art treatment and the convenience of both surgery and follow-up care in a local setting.

What is the meniscus?

The menisci are two wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage that act as "shock absorbers" between the femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone). The meniscus is tough and rubbery to help cushion and stabilize the joint.

What causes a meniscus tear?

Older people are more likely to have degenerative meniscus tears. Cartilage weakens and wears thin over time. Just an awkward twist when getting up from a chair may be enough to cause a tear, if the menisci have weakened with age.

A sudden meniscal tear often happens during sports. You might feel a "pop" when you tear a meniscus. Most people can still walk on their injured knee. Many athletes keep playing with a tear. Over 2 to 3 days, your knee will gradually become more stiff and swollen.

Common Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear

  • Pain
  • Stiffness and swelling
  • Catching or locking of your knee
  • The sensation of your knee "giving way"
  • Not being able to move your knee through its full range of motion

Without treatment, a piece of meniscus may come loose and drift into the joint. This can cause your knee to slip, pop, or lock. How your orthopedic surgeon treats your tear will depend on the type of tear you have, its size, and location. Along with the type of tear you have, your age, activity level, and any related injuries will factor into your treatment plan.


Non-Surgical Treatment for a Meniscus Tear

A small tear on the outer edge of the meniscus may not require surgical repair. As long as symptoms do not persist and the knee is stable, non-surgical treatment may be all you need.

Surgical Treatment for a Meniscus Tear

Knee arthroscopy is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures for a meniscus tear. In this procedure, a miniature camera is inserted through a small incision. This provides a clear view of the inside of the knee. The orthopedic surgeon inserts miniature surgical instruments through other portals to trim or repair the tear.

Whether a tear can be successfully treated with repair depends upon the type of tear, as well as the overall condition of the injured meniscus. A partial meniscus tear can be treated by trimming the damaged tissue away (called a menisceptomy). A larger meniscus tear must be repaired by suturing (stitching) the torn pieces together.

More information about Meniscus Repair › 


After surgery, your doctor may put your knee in a cast or brace to keep it from moving. If you have had a meniscus repair procedure, you will need to use crutches for about a month to keep weight off of your knee.

Once the initial healing is complete, your doctor will prescribe rehabilitation exercises. Regular exercise to restore your knee mobility and strength is necessary. You will start with exercises to improve your range of motion. Strengthening exercises will gradually be added to your rehabilitation plan.

The animation content provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any specific questions you may have regarding a medical condition or procedure.