Medical Library: Knee – Meniscus Tear
If you are experiencing knee pain, you may be dealing with torn cartilage, also known as a meniscus tear.
The meniscal tear is a common injury. It can affect athletes such as gymnasts and people who play team sports. It’s also common in people who have jobs that require lots of squatting, such as plumbers or coal miners. Your physical therapist can help you manage the injury and, if surgery is required, can help you prepare for the procedure and recover your strength and movement afterward.
The meniscus is a rubbery, C-shaped piece of cartilage that cushions your knee. Each of your knees has 2 menisci (plural of meniscus); one on the inner (medial) part of the knee, and the other on the outer (lateral) part. Together they act to absorb shock and stabilize the knee joint.
A meniscal tear typically is caused by twisting or turning quickly on a bent knee, often with the foot planted on the ground. Although meniscal tears are common in those who play contact sports, anyone at any age can tear a meniscus. When people talk about having torn cartilage in their knee, they usually are talking about a meniscal tear.
When you tear a meniscus, you might:
- Feel a sharp, intense pain in the knee area
- Feel a “pop” or a tearing sensation
- Have difficulty walking because of pain or a “catching” sensation
- Have difficult straightening the knee
- Experience swelling within the first 24 hours of injury