How do I know if I’ve torn my meniscus?


How do I know if I’ve torn my meniscus?

Sports Specialist physiotherapists and Musculoskeletal physios are the experts when it comes to diagnosing and treating a range of different knee injuries.

If you have:

  • Sudden or severe pain in your knee with swelling
  • Heard a loud pop or snap during sport or exercise
  • A feeling of looseness in the knee
  • An inability to painlessly put weight on the knee

Get down to your local Lane Cove physio ASAP. By delaying a diagnosis, you’re only doing yourself further damage, prolonging your recovery and increasing your chances of re-injury.

One of the most common knee injuries we see here at Lane Cove physio is a tearing of the meniscus.

Your menisci are an important part of the functioning of the knee joint and play an important role in:

  • Protecting the knee during load bearing [1]
  • shock absorption[2]
  • stability[3]
  • Joint lubrication[4]

The complex structure of the menisci can make treatment and repair following a meniscus tear challenging and physiotherapists play an important, multi-pronged role in treating and helping to prevent meniscus injuries as best we can.

How is the meniscus usually torn?

Acute meniscus injuries can be caused by many mechanisms, but usually are a result of a twisting, cutting or fast change of direction. Degenerational tears can occur with even more benign seeming movements such as a golf swing, getting out of the car, kneeling or simply changing direction.

How do I know if I’ve torn my meniscus?

A meniscus tear commonly produces a fair amount of localised knee pain followed by swelling but can also go undetected in some cases.

Torn meniscus symptoms commonly include:

  • Pain in the knee
  • Swelling
  • A popping sensation during the injury mechanism
  • Difficulty bending or straightening your leg
  • Your knee getting “stuck” or locking up

You physiotherapist has multiple clinical tests to determine a meniscal tear, including Duck Walk, McMurrays, Effusion Sweep and Joint Line Palpation tests.

Do I need surgery for a meniscus tear?

Not all meniscus lesions require surgery, with physiotherapy treatment being an effective option for most small to medium meniscus tears.

 The goals of physiotherapy treatment for a torn meniscus are to:

  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Normalise joint range of motion
  • Strengthen your knee, quadriceps and hamstring
  • Strengthen your calves, hip and pelvis muscles
  • Improve your proprioception and balance
  • Improve your technique and function e.g. walking, running, squatting, hopping and landing.
  • Minimise your chance of re-injury

If you are suffering from pain or swelling in the knee, please don’t try and run it out, jump in the car and head down to your local Lane Cove physio for some hands on treatment and get a plan for recovery so you don’t end up suffering ongoing pain or movement issues.

[1] Masouros, S. D., Mcdermott, I. D., Amis, A. A., Bull, A. M., & J. (2008). Biomechanics of the meniscus-meniscal ligament construct of the knee. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, 16(12), 1121-32.

[2] Fithian DC, Kelly MA, Mow VC. 1990. Material properties and structure‐function relationships in the menisci. Clin Orthop Relat Res 252: 19– 31.

[3] Levy IM, Torzilli PA, Gould JD, Warren RF. 1989. The effect of lateral meniscectomy on motion of the knee. J Bone Joint Surg Am 71: 401– 406.

[4] Renstrom P, Johnson RJ. 1990. Anatomy and biomechanics of the menisci. Clin Sports Med 9: 523– 538.