How to Treat a Meniscus Tear

In addition to the ACL, a common type of knee injury is called a meniscus tear. The meniscus is a c-shaped piece of tissue that distributes your weight and protects the joint surface. It helps the knee joint carry weight, glide and turn in many directions. It also keeps your femur (or your thighbone) and tibia (shinbone) from grinding against each other. Football players and others in contact sports may tear the meniscus by twisting the knee, pivoting, cutting or decelerating.

You might experience a “popping” sensation when your tear the meniscus. Most people can still walk on the injured knee, and many athletes keep playing. Symptoms of a torn meniscus include knee pain, swelling, clicking, locking and catching.

Initial treatment of a meniscal tear follows the basic RICE formula – rest, ice, compression and elevation– combined with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. If your knee is stable and does not lock, this conservative treatment may be all you need. Blood vessels feed the outer edges of the meniscus, giving that part the potential to heal on its own, so small tears on the outer edges often heal themselves with rest.