Meniscus Injuries | Symptoms & Treatment | MedStar Health

MedStar Health knee specialists offer advanced arthroscopic meniscus repair. Our comprehensive knee care includes the most advanced physical therapy to help you regain strength in your knee and restore your range of motion. No matter how simple or complex your meniscus injury, our experienced orthopedic knee surgeons at MedStar Health will offer you a successful solution. In addition, our physicians collaborate with other specialists to ensure that you have a safe and successful recovery after your treatment.

What is a torn meniscus?

The knee meniscus is a piece of cartilage that serves as a shock absorber between the ends of the leg bones. The knee meniscus also helps lubricate the joint and distributes body weight across the joint. Meniscal tears are typically caused by twisting or hyperflexing the joint. These tears can also be part of the normal degenerative processes caused by aging. Occasionally, these tears may occur simultaneously with an ACL injury.

What causes a meniscus injury?

In many cases, a meniscus injury occurs during sports or other physical activity. However, it can also occur during simple movements, especially in older adults. Some of the most common causes of a meniscus tear include:

  • Lifting weights
  • Turning or twisting suddenly
  • Playing sports

What are the symptoms of a meniscus injury?

An injured meniscus requires diagnosis and care from an orthopedic specialist. Some of the most immediate symptoms that warrant a visit to MedStar Health include:

  • Knee pain in the side or center of the knee

  • Swelling

  • Clicking sound or feeling in the knee

  • Inability to fully straighten the knee

  • Knee “giving out”

  • Stiffness

  • Knee pain that comes and goes over time

How is a meniscus injury diagnosed?

The orthopedic surgeons at MedStar Health are experts at diagnosing meniscal injuries. Our initial exam generally includes:

  • Medical history evaluation–This includes asking questions about how long you have had the pain, the cause of the pain, and what the pain feels like

  • Physical exam–Your orthopedist will examine your knee and check for signs of a meniscal injury

  • Imaging tests–An X-ray exam helps to rule out the presence of other problems, including arthritis or other bone problems. Your surgeon may also order an MRI

What are the best torn meniscus treatment options?

Most meniscal tears may be treated with conservative therapies, in addition to self-care. The following non-surgical options are recommended for minor meniscus injuries:

  • Rest

  • Ice

  • Compression

  • Elevation

  • Physical therapy

  • Strengthening exercises

More extensive injuries often require torn meniscus surgery to reattach the meniscus, replace it with donor cartilage, or remove it. At MedStar Health, most procedures can be performed using the minimally invasive arthroscopy techniques, such as arthroscopic meniscus repair surgery. This allows for shorter hospital stays and speedier recovery times.