Meniscal Cartilage Tears of the Knee

Meniscal Cartilage Tears of the Knee : What You Need to Know

Introduction :

The menisci are two C-shaped wedges of cartilage located in the knee joint. They help to distribute weight evenly across the knee and provide shock absorption.

Picture 1 : Keyhole picture of the inside of the left knee showing normal healthy joint surfaces the free inner edge of a healthy meniscal cartilage.

Meniscal tears are fairly common and occur when the meniscus is damaged or worn down over time. In this patient information leaflet, you will learn about the causes, symptoms, and management of meniscal tears.

Picture 2 : Keyhole picture of inside of the left knee showing a torn inside meniscal cartilage ‘flapping’ in the joint.

Causes of Meniscal Tears

Meniscal tears can occur due to a number of reasons including:

i. Trauma: A sudden twist or a direct blow can cause a meniscal tear.
ii. Age-related wear and tear: The menisci naturally wear down over time, making them more prone to tears as we age.
iii. Degenerative conditions: Osteoarthritis can weaken the menisci and make them more susceptible to tears.

Symptoms of Meniscal Tears

If you have a meniscal tear, you may experience the following symptoms:

I. Pain: Pain is the most common symptom of a meniscal tear. You may feel a sharp pain in your knee, especially when twisting or rotating your knee.
II. Stiffness: You may feel stiffness in your knee, especially after sitting for long periods of time.
III. Swelling: Swelling may occur in the knee joint due to fluid accumulation.
IV. Locking: You may feel as if your knee is “locking” and you can’t fully extend or bend it.
V. Popping: You may hear a “popping” sound when you have a meniscal tear.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Meniscal Tears

If you suspect you have a meniscal tear, it is important to seek medical attention.
Your doctor will perform a physical examination and may order an imaging test such as an MRI to confirm the diagnosis.

Picture 3 : Mri Scanner
Picture 4 : MRI scan of knee

Treatment for a meniscal tear varies depending on the type of tear and symptoms its causing:

Nonsurgical treatments include:

1. Rest: Resting the affected knee can help to reduce pain and swelling.
2. Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help to reduce pain and swelling.
3. Physical therapy: Physiotherapy can help to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, improve flexibility, and reduce pain.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to attempt to repair or remove the damaged portion of the meniscus. Surgery is typically performed keyhole (arthroscopy) as an a day case procedure under a general anaesthetic (fully asleep). For more information about arthroscopy click here (arthroscopy info leaflet) The recovery time can vary depending on the extent of the injury, and how it is treated.

Picture 5: Cartoon of knee arthroscopy (Keyhole procedure)

Prevention of Meniscal Tears

To help prevent meniscal tears, it is important to maintain a healthy weight, keep the muscles surrounding the knee strong, and avoid high-impact activities such as running on hard surfaces. Wearing proper footwear with good support can also help to reduce the risk of knee injuries.


Meniscal tears are common knee injuries that can be caused by a variety of factors. Symptoms of a meniscal tear may include pain, stiffness, swelling, locking, and a popping sound. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the injury and can range from rest and physical therapy to surgery. To help prevent meniscal tears, it is important to maintain a healthy weight, keep the muscles surrounding the knee strong, and avoid high-impact activities. If you suspect you have a meniscal tear, it is important to seek medical attention.

If you think you have sustained a meniscal tear or have any other knee problem and would like to see me please contact Debbie Rollason my PA on 07305097137 or e mail –

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    I had a knee arthroscopy to removed and clean up damaged cartilage after 6 years of repeated injury and dislocation from playing sport. I had been putting off the idea of surgery, but it was a great decision to finally get it seen to. I couldn't be happier with the results so far, and in less time than expected. Running, squats and climbing stair caused pain, and a lot more cracking than a 22 year old's knee should have! Now 2 weeks after the op, and following the physio exercises given after the operations, I am driving and climbing/ descending stairs without a problem and on the road to a full recover and hoping to get back to regular exercise within the next few weeks.

    I came to see you approximately four years ago and talked through the pros and cons of having an ACL replacement following an ACL rupture in my right knee I suffered playing an ill- advised game of beach volley ball on holiday in Antigua. I went ahead with the operation which you successfully performed at the Dunedin Hospital in Reading, I got on with my rehab and I now just wanted to let you to know that I will be running the London Marathon in three weeks (and raising money for Whizz-Kidz a disability charity for young people.) This letter is just a belated thank you for enabling this to happen.

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