What is a Meniscal Tear?

A meniscus is a C-shaped cartilage which sits between the upper and lower surfaces of the knee joint. There are two meniscus cartilages in the knee joint: the medial meniscus on the inner side, the lateral meniscus on the outer. They help distribute load evenly between the joint surfaces. Twisting forces to the knee may cause a meniscus to tear. In younger people this is often associated with a sporting injury and can occur with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture. In older people meniscal tear may occur with minimal trauma if there is underlying degenerative joint disease. 

What are the Symptoms?

People with a meniscal tear may experience pain localised to the side of the tear (medial or lateral), mechanical symptoms such as clicking or locking, and delayed or intermittent swelling.

What is the Treatment?

Non-surgical management is the first line of treatment for degenerative tears and is often successful. This involves rest, analgesics (paracetamol +/- anti-inflammatories), and physiotherapy when the pain subsides. 

Meniscal tears in people without arthritis are usually treated surgically with knee arthroscopy and either partial meniscectomy (trimming away the torn part) or meniscal repair.