Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center

Meniscal Tear

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Meniscal Tear

(Torn Meniscus)


A meniscal tear is a partial or full tear in the cartilage of the knee.

Torn Meniscus.

Nucleus factsheet imagehttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=73057305si2212.jpgsi2212.jpgNULLjpgsi2212.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si2212.jpgNULL17NULL2008-11-07261390Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Most meniscal tears are caused by trauma. They may also be caused by the aging process.

Risk Factors

A torn meniscus is more common in men. A tear caused by trauma is more common in active people under 40 years of age. Sports that require pivoting raise the risk of this injury. Examples are basketball, soccer, and football.

Tears caused by aging are more common in people over 40 years of age.


Symptoms may be:

  • Pain and swelling in the knee
  • Locking up, catching, or giving way of the knee
  • A popping sound at the time of the injury
  • Tenderness in the joint


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the knee. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

Pictures may be taken to view the knee. This can be done with an:


The goal of treatment is to ease pain and improve movement. This may be done with:

  • Ice and rest to ease pain and swelling
  • A knee brace to keep the knee from moving
  • Crutches to keep weight off the knee
  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • Exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee

Surgery may be done if other methods have not helped. The damaged meniscus may be repaired or removed.


The risk of a meniscal tear may be lowered by:

  • Strengthening the muscles around the knee
  • Using the right techniques when playing sports
  • Increasing activity levels slowly




  • Howell R, Kumar NS, et al. Degenerative meniscus: Pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment options. World J Orthop. 2014 Nov 18;5(5):597-602.
  • Knee sprains and meniscal tears. Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries_poisoning/fractures_dislocations_and_sprains/knee_sprains_and_meniscal_injuries.html.
  • Meniscal tears. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/meniscus-tears.
  • Meniscus tears. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/meniscus-tears.


  • Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.