Each of your knees has two menisci — C-shaped pieces of cartilage that act like a cushion between your shinbone and your thighbone. A torn meniscus causes pain, swelling and stiffness. You also might have trouble extending your knee fully. A torn meniscus requires surgical repair.
If you've torn your meniscus, you may experience the following signs and symptoms in your knee:
- A popping sensation
- Swelling or stiffness
- Pain, especially when twisting or rotating your knee
- Difficulty straightening your knee fully
- Experiencing what feels like a block to moving your knee, as if your knee were locked in place
A torn meniscus can result from any activity that causes you to forcefully twist or rotate your knee, such as aggressive pivoting or sudden stops and turns. Even kneeling, deep squatting or lifting something heavy can sometimes lead to a torn meniscus. In older adults, degenerative changes of the knee may contribute to a torn meniscus.
Complications: A torn meniscus can lead to knee instability, inability to move your knee normally or persistent knee pain. You also may be more likely to develop osteoarthritis in the injured knee.
Arthroscopy: It's sometimes possible to repair a torn meniscus, especially in children and young adults. If the tear can't be repaired, the meniscus may be surgically trimmed. Surgery may be done through tiny incisions using an arthroscope. After surgery, you will need to do exercises to optimize knee strength and stability.