The menisci are C-shaped bands of fibrocartilage in the medial and lateral knee that provide cushioning and stability. A torn meniscus will result in pain, swelling, and instability.


Sports related causes.

Meniscus tears are common and can occur with any sport related twisting injury.

Other causes of meniscus tears

Minor injuries, arthritis, and normal wear and tear with aging can lead to degeneration (breakdown) or tearing of a meniscus.


Meniscus tears may result in knee swelling, pain, tenderness over the joint, instability, limited range of motion, and a catching sensation if the torn meniscus is displaced.


A physical exam by a doctor is performed to evaluate the meniscus and determine if the knee is stable or unstable. MRI is helpful to verify the presence of a tear, define the location and complexity, locate any displaced meniscus tissues, and rule out other causes of knee pain such as bone injuries, arthritis, and ligament tears.

Nonsurgical Treatments

Treatment plans depend on the severity of injury, patient age, and the activity level of the patient.

After the initial injury, icing, elevation, ace bandaging, and anti-inflammatory medicines are recommended.

A knee brace may be helpful to add stability and allow the tear to heal.

Surgical Treatment

Repair: If the tear is not complex, the doctor may be able to sew the torn segments of the meniscus back together and allow it to heal fully.

Partial meniscectomy: If the tear is more complex or the torn tissues are small or displaced, the doctor may choose to remove portions of the meniscus. The surgeon will also shave/recontour the meniscus so it is morphologically similar to a normal triangular mensicus with smooth margins.

Total meniscectomy: When the meniscus is too badly damaged or to repair, the surgeon will remove it completely to limit the pain and catching sensation and hopefully slow the process of arthritis.