Meniscus tear: Causes, symptoms and exercises

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Thanks to the knee, an infinite number of movements can be performed with the legs. This part of the body has several elements, in which the cartilages stand out, necessary for a joint as complex as this one. Of course, it can also suffer injuries, being the meniscus tear one of the most common.

In this article we are going to highlight what a meniscus tear looks like and what to do to solve this situation.

What is a meniscus tear?

In the knee, there are pieces of cartilage that cover both the thigh bone and the bone that runs down to the foot. These pieces are known as cartilage. But, because of the strain they put on them every time the leg is used, and especially when sudden movements are made with the leg resting firmly on the ground, they can break.

These cartilages help prevent rubbing between one bone and another, which would cause pain if it were to occur. They also allow the knee to move naturally by giving it flexibility.

Symptoms of meniscus tear

We highlight what are the main symptoms that you may suffer if you have torn meniscus.

  • Rupture. Due to the type of condition, this is the main symptom. The person feels that in the knee something has broken.
  • Pain. It may be that if the leg is immobilized, no pain is felt. However, for some people, the pain is constant.
  • Swelling. When swelling is present, it is necessary to seek medical help.
  • Limitation of movement. Occurs in most cases. Attempts to move the leg may be unsuccessful, or the range is much less than normal.

Some people who have had this condition report that the knee also feels loose or locked. Whatever the case, it is best to take corrective measures as soon as possible.

What can I do if I have torn my meniscus?

If you have torn your meniscus, it is important to follow a series of steps. These will be taken into account from the very moment the injury occurs. Let’s see the first ones, which are endorsed by Dr. Fernando Corbí, who has many years of experience as a traumatologist.

Initial treatment

As soon as the injury is suffered, it is necessary to immobilize the leg. This will prevent the situation from worsening. Any instrument can be used, as long as it fulfills the function of leaving the leg and knee without any movement.

In case the person needs to walk, perhaps for day-to-day activities, the use of crutches is recommended. In this way, it is possible to avoid affecting even more the damaged knee and, at the same time, to take care not to overload too much weight on the other one.

Another measure is to use ice, applied directly to the affected knee. This helps the area to deflate and heal. And, to complete the initial treatment, you can get some analgesicdrugs approved by doctors. Thanks to these, the pain may disappear.


David Gomez, traumatologist, also supports the use of physiotherapy in the person’s recovery. When the person’s condition is mild or moderate, specific exercises can be used to help increase the resistance of the knee, as well as the muscles near it.

It should be noted that these treatments should only be used after a full evaluation of the patient’s condition by a specialist, preferably an orthopedic surgeon. The most important thing when suffering a meniscus tear is to assess the severity of the condition. This is the only way to know which activities are allowed and which are not.

Surgical intervention

In case the knee does not show signs of improvement, and after using the methods mentioned above as well as any other approved by the doctor, it is time to evaluate the possibility of surgery. This is always the last option to consider.

Before any surgical intervention is performed, the appropriate tests should be done, even those that were done at the beginning. According to the study on the use of magnetic resonance imaging and arthroscopy in the knee, these means can be used to diagnose the damage


The surgical intervention is known as knee arthroscopy, it is invasive but only slightly. Thanks to this, it is possible to repair the meniscus without the need to completely open the area. Thus, it is possible that the recovery is faster than could be expected. It is performed using an instrument known as an arthroscope.

During the operation, it is inserted into the knee through a small opening. In doing so, the surgeon will be able to see the condition of the knee on a screen. This will make it easier for him or her to perform the repair

In the meantime, another incision is made in the knee, which will be used to perform the surgery. This is because it may be necessary to remove some of the cartilage or enter the knee some element.

Although it is also possible to perform this procedure with a complete knee opening, making the doctor’s job easier, thanks to advances in science, the arthroscopic method is much more beneficial.


Although it is not as invasive, rehabilitation times must also be respected. During a period determined by the doctor, no sudden movements should be made with the leg. Even so, it is necessary not to keep the knee immobile, because that could affect the musculature in the whole leg.

Successful recovery is all about finding balance. To be sure to do it the right way, it is suggested to have the advice of a doctor or physical therapist. He or she will be able to help you learn and follow the technique in the postoperative movements.

It is true that if the meniscus has been torn, there is reason to worry, but it is a problem that has a solution. And if it is in expert hands, it will be a very safe one.

German Fuertes Otero
German Fuertes Otero
CEO at M.D. from Stanford Medicine: Stanford, California, US, M.Sc. from University of Cambridge: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK and University of Oxford: Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK. PhD at Harvard University Harvard Catalyst: Cambridge, MA, US.

Aunque pueda contener afirmaciones, datos o apuntes procedentes de instituciones o profesionales sanitarios y la información contenida en PharmaSalud esté redactada por profesionales en medicina, recomendamos al lector que cualquier duda relacionada con la salud sea consultada con un profesional del ámbito sanitario.

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