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What is meniscus tear?

The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in the knee that stabilises it and acts as a cushion between the shinbone and the thighbone. But a strong and forcefull twist in the knee, especially when putting your full weight on it, can cause it to tear. Such a meniscus tear causes pain, swelling and stiffness as well as a block in the motion of the knee, making it difficult to extend your knee fully.

Possible Causes: 

A meniscus tear is a tear of the semi-circular cartilage in the knee joint causing pain and sometimes catching sensation in the knee. Twisting your knee when your foot is firmly planted on the ground can injure the meniscus cartilage.

Risk Factors: 

  • Athletes who play contact sports, such as hockey, football or any ball games are at greater risk.
  • Playing games that involve twisting, such as tennis or any other racquets sports.

Signs & Symptoms: 

Meniscus tear symptoms could include:

  • Pain and swelling with catching or locking sensation when moving the knee.
  • Sudden pain on the inside of the knee especially when twisting, bending or squatting.
  • Difficulty in straightening your knee completely.


At Medcare, a sports medicine specialist would first observe your signs and symptoms including performing specific meniscus tear tests like McMurray’s test and Apley’s test. Then they will probably recommend an X-ray. While a torn meniscus does not require an X-ray (as it is made of cartilage), our doctor would like to rule out any other damage to the knee bone. An MRI is the best imaging test to detect a torn meniscus.

Treatment Options: 

Visit the Medcare Sports Medicine Centre for the diagnosis and treatment of your meniscus tear.  Immediate treatment of a meniscus tear calls for application of ice or cold pack and compression to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. Once our specialist does a complete assessment and diagnosis to confirm meniscus cartilage injury, they may recommend an MRI scan to determine the extent of the injury.

Unless there are severe injuries which require surgery, a minor tear is treated conservatively with pain killers, simple brace and physiotherapy. An arthroscopy would be performed to either repair (meniscus repair) or cut away part of the torn meniscus in order to improve your symptoms and regain function.

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الأسئلة الشائعة:


  • Is surgery required to repair a torn meniscus?

    A: Treatment for a torn meniscus often begins conservatively, depending on the type, size and position of your tear. The doctor will also consider your meniscus tear recovery time without surgery and then recommend the line of treatment. Surgery is the last resort, as rest, ice packs, pain killers and physiotherapy are recommended to start with.

  • What is the role of meniscus in the movement of the knee?

    A: There are two menisci in your knee – the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus. The meniscus is in the knee joint where the femur and the tibia meet and it plays a crucial role in your mobility. Its main function is to absorb shock, prevent your bones from rubbing against each other, provide stability and assist load bearing.

  • My teenage child has had a meniscus repair surgery and wants to start playing football again. Is it safe?

    A: As your child has had a meniscus repair and not removal, the surgeon has preserved the meniscus, and it serves as a shock absorber. Most young athletes do go back to playing after this procedure. Speak to your child’s surgeon to check when it would be safe to resume sports.

  • I’m confused as to whether it would be better to have a meniscus repair or removal. What should I do?

    A: You should not worry yourself over this decision, as your surgeon will decide this only during the procedure. If you have a meniscus repair surgery, your recovery period will be longer. However, your knee will still have shock absorption from the meniscus. In a meniscus removal, you will recover faster from the surgery but as the knee has lost some shock absorption, it’s important to support it externally, by building better muscle strength.

  • How do you know if you have a torn meniscus in your knee?

    A: A torn meniscus is one of the most common knee injuries and could happen to anyone, even if they’re not an athlete. Some of the most common symptoms of a torn meniscus are a popping sensation in the knee, inability to completely straighten the knee, persistent swelling or stiffness, shooting pain when you try to rotate the knee and a feeling that the knee is getting locked when you try to move them. 

    While these are just some symptoms of a torn meniscus, it’s best to visit a doctor and get a physical examination and other tests done to confirm.

    Want to know if you have a torn meniscus? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist for the correct diagnosis and treatment.

  • What happens if you leave a torn meniscus untreated?

    A: Leaving a torn meniscus untreated will not only leave you with persistent pain in the knee, but it will also cause more harm as there will be rapid degeneration of the knee joint. 

    You must also remember that if the tear is in the white zone, which is the area with no blood supply, then it may not even heal entirely over time. Hence, such weakened knee joints can lead to sudden knee-buckling causing accidents and chronic pain as you age.

    Want to get the best treatment for your torn meniscus? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • Will a knee brace help a torn meniscus?

    A: We often recommend a knee brace to patients even after they have had surgery for a torn meniscus. Knee braces help you by providing stability to the knee and preventing any strain that can aggravate the condition and make it worse. 

    Furthermore, since a knee brace provides stability and controls the range of motion, it also helps to alleviate pain and speed up recovery. So if you’ve recently suffered a torn meniscus and want to rest it, opting for a knee brace can help it heal faster. However, consulting a doctor before taking any steps is always a wise option.

    Want to know if getting a knee brace is the right option for you? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • Can a meniscus tear get worse?

    A: A torn meniscus can heal with the right treatment, such as rehabilitation exercises, physiotherapy, and rest. However, if the tear is in the part of the knee which doesn't get adequate blood supply, also known as the white zone, it can take longer to heal or might not heal completely either. 

    An untreated meniscus tear can weaken the knee joints and lead to more significant damages to the area, which will leave you with persistent pain and reduced knee mobility. If you have a torn meniscus, it’s best to get it checked by a doctor and follow the right treatment.

    A torn meniscus can get worse with time, book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today for treatment.

  • Do all meniscus tears need surgery?

    A: No, not all meniscus tears require surgery. The severity of the condition is the primary deciding factor. However, the patient's current health status, age and activity level are also considered before recommending surgery.

    For instance, for a sportsperson, it’s essential to get back into the game as soon as possible. Surgery can help in both restoring the condition of the ligament and reducing the healing period. 

    However, as time passes, the tear will heal on its own. So, surgery may not be recommended for someone who can afford to rest and undergo rehab exercises for a few months.

    Need the right treatment plan for a meniscus tear? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

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