Meniscus tear

The meniscus is a C-shaped cartilage that acts as a cushion in the knee joint. There are two menisci in each knee - one on the inner side of the knee (medial) and one on the outer side of the knee (lateral).

The menisci act as shock absorbers, cushioning the joint and protecting it from wear and tear. They also help to distribute weight evenly across the joint and stabilise the joint.

A meniscus tear occurs when one of these pieces of cartilage in the knee is injured and/or torn due to sudden twists or impact or during movements that forcefully rotate the knee while the foot is firmly planted. This mostly happens during contact sports such as basketball or football.

Daily actions such as kneeling, squatting or lifting heavy things may also result in a meniscus tear due to age and wear and tear.

What are the symptoms of a meniscus tear?

The symptoms of a meniscus tear may vary depending on the severity and location of the tear. Some common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the knee, especially when bearing weight or bending the knee.
  • A popping or clicking sensation at the time of injury.
  • Swelling and stiffness in the knee joint.
  • Difficulty straightening the knee or feeling as if the knee is locked in place.
  • Feeling of instability – a feeling of the knee ‘giving way’
  • Limited range of motion in the knee.

What are the risk factors of a meniscus tear?

Following are factors that can increase the risk of a meniscus tear:

  • Age: The meniscus becomes more brittle and less flexible with age, hence increasing the risk of a tear.
  • Gender: Men are at a higher risk to experience a meniscus tear compared to women.
  • Certain sports: Meniscus tears are more common among people who are active in sports that involve frequent start-stop movements, pivoting or twisting such as basketball, netball, tennis, among others.
  • Previous knee injury: If you have had a previous knee injury, such as an ACL tear, you may be at higher risk for a meniscus tear.
  • Obesity: Excess weight can place additional stress on the knee joint, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Occupational hazards: Jobs that require repetitive squatting or kneeling can increase the risk of a meniscus tear over time.

How is a meniscus tear diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made based on various investigations. Your doctor will first evaluate your medical history and symptoms before conducting a physical examination.

In order to assess your knee’s range of movement, your doctor may conduct special tests that involve bending, straightening, and rotating your knee to determine if you have a meniscus tear.

Imaging tests such as X-ray and MRI may also be done to evaluate the extent of injury and rule out other causes of knee pain.

If the tests above are unable to determine the cause of your knee pain, a minimally invasive procedure or keyhole surgery known as an arthroscopy may be performed. This technique involves making small incisions that allow the doctor to insert a tiny camera to get a clearer view of the injury.

How is a meniscus tear treated?

In cases of mild to moderate meniscus tears, the Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (R.I.C.E.) therapy will be advised:

  • Rest: Take a break from the activity that caused the injury to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Ice: Use cold packs on the injury for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
  • Compression: Wear an elastic compression bandage to prevent additional swelling.
  • Elevation: Recline when you rest and put your leg up higher than your heart to reduce swelling.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help to reduce pain and inflammation.

If surgery is needed to repair or remove pieces of the torn meniscus in severe injuries, this is usually done by arthroscopy (keyhole surgery).

Book an appointment at Pantai Hospitals

A dedicated and expert team of Orthopaedic specialists at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance.

Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have concerns or questions regarding a meniscus tear. We assure you the best possible care tailored to your specific needs.

Pantai Hospital has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

Thank you for your patience
Click to know more!