Meniscal injury

Torn meniscus or locked knee

A common sports injury caused by twisting the knee with some force — this causes a swollen and painful knee joint

What is a meniscal injury?

A meniscus tear is a common sports injury, and can affect people of all ages. The menisci (plural of meniscus) are c-shaped structures which protect each knee.

In younger people, they are tough and rubbery but can tear when twisted with force. In older people, the menisci become less elastic and can be torn during milder activity such as squats.

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of a meniscal injury? icon plus

    Each knee has two menisci — one on the outside of the knee, and one on the inside of the knee. Symptoms of a meniscal injury are:

    • A sharp pain when twisting the knee or squatting
    • A swollen knee joint, which feels may feel unsteady
    • A popping or locking sensation within the knee
    • In some cases, pieces of the meniscus can become caught in the knee joint. This can stop the leg from straightening fully.
  • Diagnosing a meniscal tear icon plus

    Our doctors will carry out a physical assessment on your knee to see how well you can move it. They will also ask you which activities you were doing when your knee began to hurt, and whether you have any past injuries.

    If your doctor suspects you have a meniscal tear, they may recommend an MRI scan. This will help them see the extent of the tear and whether the torn meniscus has moved to the joint. If the joint is obstructed and locked, they may recommend surgery.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    It's important to reduce the pain and swelling in the knee, so your doctor will recommend anti-inflammatory medications and ice packs in the first instance. This helps to settle the symptoms of meniscal tears in most people. 

    If your knee is locked, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair or remove the portion of the meniscus caught in the knee joint. Here, keyhole surgery is carried out on the knee using the arthroscope — a small camera. This is passed into the joint so that the surgeon can repair or remove the torn portion of meniscus. 
     

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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