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How to Know If Your Meniscus is Torn

You may not realize how much wear and tear your legs and joints take during the course of the day; however, this stress adds up over time. Eventually, the cartilage between your bones might start to break down, leading to injuries.

In general, the average person will walk between 3,000 and 4,000 steps in a day; however, it is also not unusual for someone to walk close to 10,000 steps in a day.

Even though knee injuries commonly take place while playing sports, meniscus injuries tend to appear gradually. In many situations, a torn meniscus is actually the cause of chronic knee pain. Therefore, it is important for everyone to be familiar with how a torn meniscus is diagnosed and treated.


What Is a Torn Meniscus?

The meniscus is a small piece of cartilage that acts as a cushion between the tibia and the femur. When the knee moves, the tibia and femur shift back and forth on top of each other. The goal of the meniscus is to provide a cushion for this movement, reducing friction that would otherwise take place between these two bones, leading to pain.

When someone tears their meniscus, this cushion is gone. Without the meniscus, your mobility can be severely impacted. As one of the most common knee injuries, it is critical to be familiar with how a torn meniscus could present.


Torn Meniscus Symptoms

Like other injuries, a torn meniscus can vary in its range and severity. Some people might only have a partially torn meniscus while other people might have torn it completely. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Pain located in the knee, particularly when bearing weight on the affected leg
  • The knee may feel stiff
  • Some people describe a clicking motion in the knee
  • Localized swelling might be present around the knee as well

Importantly, these symptoms are usually only present with an acute tear. If the meniscus has worn down gradually, over time, then pain and stiffness might not be present at all. Therefore, a meniscus tear might actually go unnoticed.


Testing for a Meniscus Tear

When you arrive at the doctor’s office with a suspected knee injury, the first step is to take a complete history of how the injury happened and the symptoms that accompany it. Then, the doctor will walk you through a series of knee tests to pinpoint where the injury is located. For example, if the doctor suspects a torn ACL, then he or she might perform an anterior drawer test or a Lachman’s test.

One of the most common tests is called a circumduction knee test. Also called the McMurray’s test, this test brings the knee from flexion to extension with external or internal rotation. If this test leads to severe tenderness or an audible click, then there is a good chance that the meniscus has been torn. This test can be confirmed using an MRI.


Do Meniscus Tears Heal on Their Own?

Some people wonder if a torn meniscus can heal on its own. Sadly, this is usually not the case. It is always important for people to seek professional advice when it comes to knee injuries. A torn meniscus can be serious and without surgery, portions of the torn meniscus might start to drift further out of place. This can lead to complications and could make the injury even worse. Therefore, it is always better to rely on the experience of a trained orthopedic surgeon when it comes to the treatment of a torn meniscus. That is where we can help.


No Two Cases Are the Same: Rely on the Team from Outpatient Orthopedic Surgery at Prime

If you are concerned that you might have suffered a serious knee injury, such as a torn meniscus, then you need to find the most experienced orthopedic surgeons in your area. Prime Surgical Suites in Western North Carolina provides experienced, highly-trained surgeons and a state-of-the-art outpatient surgical facility.


At Prime Surgical Suites, we provide state-of-the-art, cost-effective musculoskeletal surgical care in a convenient and comfortable outpatient setting for patients of all ages. Located in RiverCrest Medical Park, we are the region's first outpatient center focused exclusively on orthopedics. Our physician-led center will help restore your active lifestyle and well-being with compassion and orthopedic excellence.

Tags: Knee