A meniscus tear is a common knee injury that often affects people who play contact sports. It can also be caused by wear and tear and doing everyday activities that put pressure on the knee joint, such as squatting to pick something up or getting in and out of a car and the injury occurs when a person tears the protective cartilage in the knee. A meniscus tear isn’t always painful, but it can cause swelling and instability in the knee. The knee may lock, and you may have trouble moving it. A meniscal tear is especially common among people with arthritis and older athletes, since the meniscus in the knee weakens with age. Due to degeneration of tissue, cartilage wears thin over time, making it more prone to tears. A torn meniscus is a common injury, often due to twisting or rotating the knee aggressively, that causes certain tissue in the knee to tear.


In general, there are three different levels of meniscus tear:
Mild: Minor pain and/or swelling. Symptoms may disappear after two or three weeks.
Moderate: There is a pain on one side of the knee. Swelling appears and can worsen over time. Pressure or knee stiffness is common. feeling of sharp pain with certain movements like squatting or twisting. Symptoms may disappear after a few weeks but can linger on and off until treatment is been done.
Severe: Torn pieces of the meniscus can get stuck in knee joint. This may cause knee to lock or pop. There might be a feeling of joint instability, or knee can even collapse without warning too.

Symptoms of a meniscus tear include:

Pain in the knee
A popping sensation during the injury
Difficulty bending and straightening the leg
A tendency for your knee to get “stuck” or lock up


To diagnose a meniscus tear, thorough physical examination is needed. X-rays may be necessary, to rule out broken bones and other problems. The MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, which allows a more detailed evaluation of knee cartilage is needed to confirm the injury.


Immediately After Injury, the first thing should be done is too put ice for about 20 minutes on it and elevate the knee every 4-6 weeks for 24hours. But, don’t apply ice directly to the skin. Instead, wrap a damp towel around the knee then put a bag of ice on the towel. This drops the temperature of the knee without the risk of damaging the skin.


After a diagnosis of a meniscus tear, the physical therapy could be prescribed in mild to moderate level as the severe stage surgical intervention should be recommended. The goal of therapy is to restore as much function as possible with the minimal amount of pain. Some modalities used in meniscus tear rehab include:

Muscle strengthening
Balance and range of motion exercises
Heat and/or ice
Joint compression
Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) — gently stimulates muscles to strengthen them