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What is a Meniscus Tear?

New York City Personal Injury Lawyer

What is a Meniscus Tear?


Meniscus Tear

A tear of the meniscus may be caused by several factors, commonly from a twisting of the knee or from degenerative changes.

People can sustain meniscus tears in accidents such as car crashes, trip and falls, slip and falls, bicycle accidents and motorcycle accidents.

A meniscus tear is a very common injury with more than three million U.S. cases per year.

Sign and Symptoms

There are three types of meniscus tears, with its own set of symptoms.

  • Minor tear: May cause slight pain and swelling. Usually resolves itself in 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Moderate tear: Can cause pain at the side or center of the knee. Swelling slowly increases over 2 to 3 days. The knee may feel stiff with limitation in bending. There may be sharp pain when the knee is twisted or when squatting. The symptoms may resolve 1 to 2 weeks, but can come return. The pain may come and go for years without treatment.
  • Severe tear: These tears usually cause more pain and immediate swelling and stiffness. Pieces of the torn meniscus can move into the joint space. This can make the knee catch, pop or lock. The knee may not be able to straighten and may feel “wobbly.” It can give out without warning.

The initial diagnosis will normally be confirmed by MRI.

Treatment Options

There are many things to consider when deciding how to treat your torn meniscus, including

The extent and location of the tear, pain level, age, activity level, doctor’s preference, and age of the injury will be considered when deciding how to treat a torn meniscus.

Treatment option will include nonsurgical treatment, surgical repair, partial meniscectomy and a total meniscectomy.

Nonsurgical treatment can consist of rest, ice, compression, elevation, and physical therapy. A temporary knee brace may be prescribed. Steroid injections may also be administered to alleviate the pain.
Surgery may be performed to sew the tear together.
A partial meniscectomy is a surgical procedure to remove only the torn section of the meniscus. If torn pieces have floated into the joint space, the torn portion is removed and the edges of the remaining meniscus are shaved to make the meniscus smooth.
A total meniscectomy is surgery to remove the entire meniscus. This, however, is generally avoided due to the fact that it can increase the risk for osteoarthritis in the knee.

Whenever possible, meniscus surgery is done arthroscopically because of the faster healing time.

The location (zone) of the tear is one of the most important factors in determining treatment options.

The inner two-thirds (white zone) of the meniscus does not have a good blood supply, and, as such, does not heal well either on its own or after repair.

When the tear extends from the red zone into the white zone, there may be enough blood supply for healing. The tear may then be repaired or removed. The surgeon decides this during the surgery.

The pattern of the tear may also determine whether the tear can be repaired. Longitudinal tears are usually repairable. Radial tears may be repairable depending on where they are located. Horizontal and flap (oblique) tears are generally not repairable.

Have you Sustained a Meniscus Tear?

A meniscus tear is considered a serious injury under the law. If you or a loved-one sustained a meniscus tear in an accident that was due to the fault of another personal or entity, it is important to speak to a personal injury attorney and accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your rights and assert your claim.

  1. Great breakdown of how to tell when you experience symptoms of a meniscus tear. This is really helpful.

  2. Thank you for the comment.

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