Knee Pain? It Could Be Your Meniscus

Follow along as Sports Medicine specialist, Kyle Sochacki, M.D., gives a comprehensive overview of meniscus related knee pain. Dr. Sochacki discusses the purpose of the meniscus, common symptoms of meniscus tears, and conservative and surgical treatment options.  

 The primary function of the meniscus is to protect the knee. It does so by helping distribute force evenly and providing stability and lubrication. 

 Meniscus injuries are often sports-related and characterized by a popping sound and sensation at the onset of the injury. However, older adults can also experience a degeneration of the meniscus, even in the absence of significant trauma.   

Meniscus Injury Symptoms 

  • Mechanical symptoms (popping, clicking, locking, catching) 
  • Catching
  • Difficulty or inability to squat
  • Limited range of motion
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness

Meniscus Tear Treatment Options 

Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan based on factors such as the size and location of the meniscus tear and your overall knee health. 

Non-operative treatments are common when patients have small tears that are not causing mechanical issues. These treatment methods are also popular with patients who may have other conditions, such as arthritis, in addition to a meniscus tear.   

Conservative Treatments Include: 

  • Rest
  • Activity modification
  • Physical therapy 
  • Bracing 
  • Oral anti-inflammatory medication 
  • Steroid injections 

Most patients who follow a conservative treatment plan return to sport and other daily activities within a few weeks of starting treatment.


Meniscus Tear Surgical Options 

Depending on the type and location of the meniscus tear, your physician may recommend meniscal tear surgery. Most of these surgeries are outpatient procedures and performed as arthroscopic knee surgery. 

If the meniscus tear can be repaired, patients start physical therapy soon after surgery and are placed in a brace with some restrictions for about six weeks. These patients can typically run about three months after surgery and return to full activity four-six months after surgery.

If the meniscus tear is not repairable, the torn portion of the meniscus is removed, leaving only the healthy portion intact. The recovery process is more flexible, leaving the knee unrestricted and allowing weight-bearing activity as tolerated. Patients complete physical therapy and are typically able to return to their normal activities within six weeks of surgery.

While the recovery is stricter and longer meniscus repair surgery is considered the preferred method. This is because meniscus repair surgery provides active individuals a higher chance to return to sport and a lower chance of developing knee arthritis or needing a knee replacement in the future.

Although meniscus injuries often happen without notice, the team at Orthopedic ONE is here to assess your injury and provide a treatment plan to help you get better and back to participating in the activities you love!