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The ends of the three bones in the knee joint—femur, tibia, and patella—are covered with cartilage that cushions the bones and allows the joint to move easily without pain. Between these bones, two C-shaped disks of connective tissue, called menisci, act as shock absorbers to cushion the lower part of the leg from the weight of the rest of the body.
Meniscal tears typically happen during a rotating movement while bearing weight, like twisting the upper leg while the foot is planted.
A meniscal injury can be minor, with the meniscus staying connected to the knee.
In a seriously injured knee, the meniscus is barely attached to the knee by a cartilage thread, which is sometimes referred to as torn cartilage in the knee. Meniscus tears are among the most common knee joint injuries that orthopedic and sports medicine specialists encounter, especially among athletes who play contact sports.
If you have knee pain and think you’ve torn your meniscus, see a UCHealth provider right away for a proper diagnosis and the right treatment plan for your case.
We treat meniscal tears frequently and can offer you a variety of treatment options for a torn meniscus, including surgical repair. Get ready to get back in the game.
Each person may exhibit different symptoms, but the most common are:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should do your best to not walk on that knee to prevent pain and further injury. Then, see your provider as soon as possible for a physical exam and imaging tests.
An untreated torn meniscus won’t heal on its own, and it may lead to chronic pain and long-term instability in the affected knee, especially if the blood supply to the knee joint and cartilage has been affected.
Your UCHealth provider will develop a personalized treatment plant based on your injury, activity level and other conditions like your overall health. It will likely include RICE treatment, which you can do at home to ease your discomfort and speed healing:
In addition, over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce pain. If your symptoms still persist, your doctor may suggest arthroscopic surgery. Your surgeon inserts a thin tube fitted with an HD camera and surgical tools, called an arthroscope, through a tiny incision(s) to perform a procedure depending on the type of tear. This can include:
After surgery, you will be assigned a program of rehabilitation exercises and physical therapy. A meniscus repair typically takes around three months to completely heal. A meniscectomy requires less time, from three to four weeks.
At UCHealth, meniscus tears are one of the most common knee injuries we treat, and you can count on the deep expertise of our orthopedic and sports medicine specialists.
Your personalized treatment plan will help your knee heal so you can perform the way you did pre-injury—and pain-free.