Sports Medicine and Exercise Information  

Dr. Allan Mishra | Knee Pain Diagnosis


(Torn Cartilage)

Definition A Meniscus Tear is a injury to the cartilage inside the knee. This cartilage normally acts as a shock absorbing cushion between the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia).

Model and X-ray of a Normal Knee

Model and Arthroscopic Pictures of a Normal and a Torn Meniscus
Details Mensicus tears are very common. These cartilage injuries can occur during almost any sport or activity. They may also be associated with ligament injuries such as a medial collateral ligament sprain or an anterior cruciate ligament tear.
Causes Meniscus tears can result from a sudden traumatic injury such as a violent twisting of the knee. Tears may also occur without significant trauma. In these cases a meniscus tear may be due to repeated small injuries to the cartilage or degeneration of the tissue in older patients.
Diagnosis Meniscus tears are typically associated with pain along the inner side or outer side of the knee. Mild to moderate swelling will accompany this pain. Clicking, catching or locking of the knee may also be present. The history and physical exam are usually enough to make a diagnosis. X-rays are taken to rule out fractures and an MRI scan may be used to confirm the tear.

MRI of Normal and Torn Mensicus

Nonoperative: Many meniscus tears will respond to rest, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. The therapy follows a three phase treatment protocol:

  • Phase I: Control of pain and inflammation REST, Icing, Stretching, Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Phase II: Restore strength and function
  • Phase III: Return to work or sports specific activities

Operative: If the non-operative treatment is not sucessful, arthroscopic (minimally invasive) surgery may be needed to remove or repair the torn cartilage. Several methods are available for surgical treatment including partial removal (meniscectomy), trephination (stimulation of blood flow by opening channels), and repair (sutures, arrows, staples etc.).

Partial Menisectomy Animation

Meniscus Trephinaton Animation

Meniscus Repair Surgery Pictures


Maintain strong and flexible muscles around the knee.

Patients with complete anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears should have their ACL reconstructed to avoid future cartilage injuries, especially if they wish to remain highly active.