Torn Meniscus

Knee Clinics located in Portland, OR, Bellevue, WA and Tempe, AZ

Torn Meniscus services offered in Portland, OR, Bellevue, WA and Tempe, AZ

Each year, up to 500,000 Americans experience a torn meniscus. Though common, a torn meniscus can affect your mobility and quality of life without treatment. At Reflex Knee Specialists, the team of knee experts provides cutting-edge, non-surgical care for meniscus injuries. To make an appointment, call the nearest office in Portland, Oregon; Bellevue, Washington; or Tempe, Arizona, or book online today.

Torn Meniscus Q&A

What is a torn meniscus?

Each of your knee joints has two C-shaped pieces of fibro-cartilage called menisci. The cartilage forms a cushion between your thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) and acts as a shock absorber, allowing you to walk, run, and climb stairs. 

You might experience a torn meniscus if you step down awkwardly or forcefully twist your knee. Most meniscus injuries improve with conservative measures and non-surgical interventions such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP).  Most meniscal tears do not require surgery.  Only very complicated tears that cause significant biomechanical issues will need to be referred to a surgeon.

What are the symptoms of a torn meniscus?

Symptoms of a torn meniscus include:

  • A popping sensation
  • Knee swelling or stiffness
  • Pain when bending or rotating your knee
  • Difficulty straightening your knee
  • Feeling like your knee locks 

If you have a torn meniscus, you might also experience knee weakness that feels as if the joint is about to give way.

Who is at risk of a torn meniscus?

Anyone can experience a torn meniscus, but they’re especially common in athletes who play sports that involve twisting or pivoting, like basketball and soccer. Several other factors may also increase your risk, including difficulty maintaining a healthy weight or being middle-aged.

How is a torn meniscus diagnosed?

To diagnose a torn meniscus, your Reflex Knee Specialists provider reviews your medical records, asks about your symptoms, and performs a physical exam. During the exam, they move your knee in different positions and might also ask you to squat or twist the knee.  

What sets providers at Reflex Knee Specialists apart is the use of dynamic ultrasound testing.  Reflex providers can use diagnostic ultrasound to visualize the front and back of the meniscus.  With the ultrasound probe over the knee, they will passively flex, extend, or rotate the knee while looking at the meniscus with ultrasound to see if a defect is present.  These movements while the ultrasound probe is over the meniscus are called dynamic ultrasound testing and reveal how certain tissues perform when put into motion.  All providers at Reflex Knee Specialists have been trained in dynamic ultrasound of the knee which is not provided in 99% of other clinics treating knee pain.

How is a torn meniscus treated?

Treatment of a torn meniscus depends on various factors, including your age, the severity of your symptoms, and their effect on your mobility and range of motion. Your Reflex Knee Specialists provider might recommend:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment

Ultimately, the goal of treatment is to relieve pain, reduce swelling, and enhance your mobility.

Is there any way to prevent a torn meniscus?

There are several things you can do to reduce the risk of a torn meniscus. The team at Reflex Knee Specialists recommends strengthening the muscles that support your knee, easing into new forms of exercise or sports activity, and wearing a knee brace if you have a weak or unstable knee.

In people with knee osteoarthritis, the meniscus is exposed to chronic levels of inflammation inside the joint.  Over time, the inflammation weakens tissues including the meniscus and cartilage, causing them to break down over time.  When a meniscus tear happens in the setting of osteoarthritis, it is called a degenerative tear.  Non-surgical treatments such as platelet-rich plasma and hyaluronic acid reduce inflammation inside the joint and put the brakes on the degradation process, resulting in a healthier joint fluid so the meniscus will be less vulnerable to degenerative tears.

To explore the various treatment options for a torn meniscus, make an appointment with a provider at Reflex Knee Specialists by calling the nearest office or booking online today.