Meniscus Tear

A meniscus tear is one of the most common knee injuries. A meniscus tear can occur when you forcefully twist or rotate your knee. A meniscal tear can also slowly develop as a result of normal wear and tear. Should it occur, you can expect pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited motion. Anyone can develop a torn meniscus, although athletes are especially at risk. With proper diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation, you can usually return to your pre-injury abilities.

Types of Meniscus Tears

Two bones — the femur (the thighbone) and the tibia (the shinbone) — meet to form your knee joint. Between them are the menisci, two crescent-shaped bands of thick, rubbery cartilage. The menisci are crucial to your knee’s stability and help to transmit weight between bones. The medial meniscus is found inside your knee joint, and the lateral meniscus is outside the joint.

Meniscus tears can vary in size and severity; they can be split in half, appear in the shape of a “C,” or barely cling to the knee joint. The specific type will depend on the tear’s appearance and where it occurs in the meniscus, with common tears including:

  • Radial tears, the most common type, occur within the avascular zone of the meniscus.
  • Bucket handle tears form in the center of the meniscus. This tear can affect both the medial and lateral meniscus.
  • Flap tears involve part of the cartilage peeling back and getting stuck in the joint, causing it to "catch" or lock up.

Your First Stop: Meniscus Tear

The Spine & Sports Health Center should be your first stop for meniscus tear pain. Speak with our medical director, on the phone, for free before booking an appointment.


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