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Knee Meniscus Tear


The meniscus is a cartilaginous tissue found between the thigh bone and shin bone. It serves to evenly distribute weight in the knee joint, cushion forces from the thigh during impact activities and provide stability to the knee joint.


What is a meniscus?

  • The meniscus is a cartilaginous tissue found between the thigh bone and shin bone
  • There are 2 menisci in the knee—the medial and the lateral meniscus
  • The medial meniscus lies on the inside of the knee joint, whereas the lateral meniscus lies on the outside

What is the function of the meniscus?

  • The meniscus serves to evenly distribute weight in the knee joint and cushion forces during high impact activities (i.e. hopping, jumping, running)
  • It also contributes to stability and movement in the knee joint

What are the common causes of meniscal injury?

Meniscus tears can occur due to

  • Trauma (when the knee is bent and twisted with the foot firmly plant on the ground)
  • Degeneration (mainly in the older population)

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Pain
  • Swelling at the joint line area
  • Tenderness along the joint line
  • Limited range of movement
  • Locking sensation (inability to straighten the knee)
  • Clicking/”popping” sounds during movement

What are the risk factors?

How to diagnose meniscus tear?

  • Clinicians can diagnose meniscus tears/injuries through a thorough physical examination which can include tests specific to meniscus injury (joint line palpation or McMurrays’s test)
  • Doctors may request for X-ray to check for degenerative changes to the knee, or an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to confirm the extent and area of the meniscal injury

What are the treatments available?

  • Initial acute management is done through the RICE principle (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation)
  • Subsequent conservative physiotherapy management will aim to reduce pain, improve range of motion/flexibility, strength, and balance/control
  • Modalities such as therapeutic ultrasound, interferential therapy, icing or shortwave diathermy may be employed to reduce pain/swelling
  • Strengthening exercises are usually targeted at the lower limb muscles, in conjunction with exercises that improve balance
  • The severity and extent of the meniscus tear can affect the healing potential of the meniscus
  • Some meniscus tears may require surgical intervention. These may include keyhole surgeries that involve trimming of torn portions of the meniscus (meniscectomy) or joining the torn meniscus together (meniscus repair). Options can be discussed with the surgeon. (post knee arthroscopy)

How can I prevent meniscal injury?

  • Strengthen your lower limb muscles i.e. quadriceps(by doing wall slide and lunges) and hamstring muscles
  • Train jumping, landing and cutting techniques


- Last updated 1 Jul 2011,6:06 pm

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