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Four Things to Know About Meniscus Tears

Did you know meniscus tears are one of the most common knee injuries? You are especially at risk if you are an athlete and play contact sports. If you hear someone say they have torn cartilage in their knee, they are referring to a meniscus tear.

Meniscus tears are usually caused by a traumatic injury, though they may also be seen in degenerative conditions. Regardless of how they occur, treatment is imperative to improve long-term outcomes.

Orthopedic doctors in Canton are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of meniscus tears. Our dedicated surgeons provide a clear understanding of the condition so you can be an active participant in your recovery.

1: The Definition of a Meniscus Tear

Three bones join to form your knee joint: the thigh bone, shinbone, and knee cap. There are two "wedge-shaped" pieces of cartilage between your shinbone and thigh bone. They are called the "menisci" and act as shock-absorbers to cushion the joint.

Menisci can tear in different ways. Tears are defined by where they occur and how they look. Three common tears are the bucket handle, flap, and radial. Often tears occur with other knee injuries such as ACL tears.

Meniscus tears most often occur when the athlete twists or turns in an unusual way. It can happen when the athlete twists or turns the upper leg while their foot is planted.

2: The Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear

There are several common symptoms of a meniscus tear that include:

  • Pain in the knee joint. Pain is usually felt on the inside, outside, or in the back of the knee.

  • Swelling

  • Catching or locking of the knee joint

  • Inability to fully bend or extend the knee joint

  • Limping

Sometimes the symptoms can present the same as other knee injuries. It is important to discuss all symptoms with your orthopedic doctor to help determine the right diagnosis.

3: How is a Meniscus Tear Diagnosed

Meniscus tears are diagnosed with a patient's health history and evaluation. A doctor will usually order an x-ray or MRI to confirm the diagnosis.


The X-Ray will provide the doctor with an image of the tissues and bones in the area of injury. The doctor may order a joint x-ray with contrast dye to examine the knee joint.


An MRI uses large magnets, radio frequencies, and a computer to produce the affected area's images. An MRI can help determine the severity of the damage to the knee.

With accurate diagnosis, orthopedic doctors can determine the right course of treatment for your meniscus tear.

4: What is the Treatment of a Meniscus Tear

Treatment options can be based on several factors, including:

  • Age

  • Health and Medical History

  • Severity of injury

  • Tolerance of medication and treatment options

  • The predicted length of time to heal

  • Your participation in treatment

Your doctor may recommend:

  • Icing

  • Pain relievers such as ibuprofen

  • Physical therapy

  • Arthroscopic Surgery

If your orthopedic doctor recommends surgery, it will be performed arthroscopically. It is a minimally invasive procedure where a small optic tube is inserted through an incision in the knee. This will allow the surgeon to view and repair the tear successfully.

It is essential to follow all treatment instructions after surgery to have a successful recovery.

Learn More About Meniscus Tears and Repairs at Pinnacle Orthopaedics

If you need more information on treatment options for a meniscus tear, please schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic specialists. We offer the latest technology and skilled doctors at all our sites, including:

For inquiries, contact us or call us at 770-427-5717.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.