Meniscal Tear of the Knee

Harris & Ross regularly see patients who have suffered a torn meniscus through sport or degenerative issues. Find out more about what this issue means, why it happens and how we treat it-

What is a torn meniscus?

A tear of the meniscus is a frequently seen injury in sports men and women.  Activities that aggressively twist or rotate the knee can result in a torn meniscus.

Menisci are wedges of cartilage found within the knee joint.  You have two in each knee, an inner (medial) and outer (lateral) meniscus.  Their role is to provide cushioning and shock absorption within the knee joint. They also help protect the smooth cartilage covering the ends of the shinbone and thighbone from developing wear and tear.

Damage to a meniscus can cause a number of symptoms such as pain, swelling, stiffness and trouble straightening the knee.


Why do they tear?

Meniscii are torn for two reasons:

1) Acute Injury

Commonly when twisting the knee when the foot is planted, for example in football.

2) Age-Related Changes

In the older population degenerative tears can develop in the meniscus without a provocative event. These occur due to cumulative stress through the meniscus over many years.


Signs and symptoms:

  • Pain on twisting or rotating the knee
  • Swelling
  • Reduced range of movement – particularly straightening the knee
  • The sensation that your knee is “locked” in place
  • A “popping” feeling at the time of injury


Management of Meniscal Tears

The severity of the meniscal tear will determine the management and treatment plan. Some smaller tears and more often degenerative tears are treated conservatively with physiotherapy. At the other end of the spectrum an acute meniscal tear will require surgery to repair or remove the damaged cartilage.  Often MRI scan and review with a specialist knee consultant will be required to ascertain the extent of the tear and to discuss the best management plan moving forwards.


How can physio help?

Physiotherapy is important both pre and post-operatively as well as for those tears managed non-surgically. Physiotherapy techniques can help through:

  • Increasing range of movement
  • Reducing swelling
  • Strengthening muscles supporting the knee and hip
  • Improving balance and control
  • Gait re-education
  • Soft tissue work
  • Diagnosis and appropriate referral onwards
  • Progressive exercises to ensure a safe return to sport
  • Advice regarding modification of sport /exercise when appropriate

Harris & Ross practitioners are available to support patients in all of these areas. To make an appointment for an initial physio assessment at our Manchester, Wilmslow, Altrincham or Wigan clinics, and discuss a treatment plan for meniscal tear injuries call Harris & Ross on 0161 832 9000 or click the book now icon below.