The meniscus is easily injured by the force of rotating the knee while bearing weight. A partial or total tear may occur when a person quickly twists or rotates the upper leg while the foot stays still (for example, turning to hit a tennis ball). If the tear is tiny, the meniscus stays connected to the front and back of the knee; if the tear is large, the meniscus may be left hanging by a thread of cartilage. The seriousness of a tear depends on its location and extent.
- Initially, pain particularly when the knee is straightened
- The knee may click, lock, or feel weak, unstable
If the tear is minor and the pain and other symptoms go away, the doctor may recommend a muscle-strengthening program, ant-inflammatories and ice. Exercises for meniscal problems are best started with guidance from a doctor and physical therapist or exercise therapist. The therapist will make sure that the patient does the exercises properly and without risking new or repeat injury. The following exercises after injury to the meniscus are designed to build up the quadriceps and hamstring muscles and increase flexibility and strength.
If the tear is more extensive, the doctor may perform arthroscopic surgery to see the extent of injury and to repair or remove the torn piece. The doctor can sew the meniscus back in place if the injury is in an area with a good blood supply, and if the ligaments are intact.
If the tear is in an area with a poor blood supply, the doctor may cut off a small portion of the meniscus to even the surface, this is called a partial meniscectomy.