If you experience pain in the center or side of your knee, have a limited range of motion (bending and straightening), or feel the knee locking up, buckling or “giving way,” you may have a torn meniscus that requires repair.
The knee is made up of three bones – the femur (thighbone), the tibia (shinbone), and the patella (kneecap) – along with the soft tissue that connects them. Between the femur and tibia are two C-shaped pieces of cartilage that cushion the knee, give it stability, and act as shock absorbers for the bones. They also allow the joint to slide smoothly and move in many directions.
These two pieces of cartilage are the menisci (plural of meniscus), and each knee has two of them – one at the outer edge (the lateral meniscus) and one at the inner edge (the medial meniscus).
A torn meniscus often occurs as the result of an injury, such twisting or hyper-flexing of the knee joint during sports, but can happen while walking or squatting. A meniscus tear can also occur when the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is injured.
Depending on the severity and size of the tear, conservative nonsurgical treatment includes rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. Some meniscal tears may require surgery to remove torn sections of the meniscus.