Apex Sports Clinic

Meniscus Tears

Let’s understand Meniscus Tears

Meniscus Tears

A meniscus tear is a common knee injury that occurs when the cartilage in the knee joint, called the meniscus, is damaged. The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of tough, rubbery cartilage that acts as a cushion between the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia). Its primary role is to distribute weight and absorb shock during movement, helping to stabilize the knee joint and protect the bones from friction.

Meniscus Tears

A meniscus tear is a common knee injury that occurs when the cartilage in the knee joint, called the meniscus, is damaged.

What are the causes ?

Meniscus tears are a common kind of knee injury that can have a number of reasons. Sudden twisting or pivoting actions that put too much strain on the knee joint can cause acute trauma, which is frequently sustained in sports or accidents. Furthermore, the aging process’ degenerative alterations can weaken the meniscus over time, increasing its susceptibility to tears even during little motions. The meniscus is more prone to injury when it is subjected to repetitive stress from jobs or hobbies that require a lot of kneeling, crouching, or heavy lifting. Because they include high-impact activities, athletes who play sports like basketball or soccer that need dynamic movements are more vulnerable. Meniscus tears are further increased by anatomical abnormalities, weak muscles, poor biomechanics, history of knee injuries, and hereditary predispositions.

What are the symptoms ?

Meniscus tears can cause a variety of symptoms, most typically knee joint pain, edema, and stiffness, depending on the extent and location of the damage. People may feel like something is popping when they become injured or when they move in specific ways.
In addition, there may be a sensation of instability or “giving way,” and difficulty bending or straightening the knee.
When a ripped piece of meniscus gets lodged between the bones in the knee joint, it can cause a catching or locking sensation that limits normal movement. In many instances, the swelling and soreness may get worse with time, particularly when moving or carrying weight. In addition, people may have discomfort at the meniscus’s joint line in the knee.

What are the Treatments?


Meniscus Repair

Meniscus repair is a surgical procedure aimed at suturing the torn edges of the meniscus together to allow them to heal naturally. This approach is generally considered when the tear is located in the outer red zone, where there is sufficient blood flow to facilitate healing. The steps involved in meniscus repair include:

1. Arthroscopic Surgery: The procedure is typically performed arthroscopically. Small incisions are made around the knee, and an arthroscope (a small camera) is inserted to provide a clear view of the meniscus and other knee structures.
2. Assessment of Tear: The surgeon assesses the tear to determine if it is suitable for repair. Tears in the red zone are more likely to be repaired due to the better blood supply.
3. Suturing the Tear: Specialized instruments are used to place sutures along the torn margins of the meniscus. Different techniques, such as inside-out, outside-in, or all-inside suturing, may be used depending on the location and type of tear.

What is Postoperative Care?

After the surgery, the knee is typically immobilized with a brace or splint to protect the repair. Physical therapy is initiated to gradually restore range of motion and strength.
Meniscus repair aims to preserve as much of the meniscal tissue as possible, which is crucial for maintaining knee function and preventing long-term issues such as osteoarthritis.

Partial Meniscectomy

When a meniscus tear occurs in the inner white zone, where the blood supply is poor, healing is unlikely. In such cases, or if the tear is complex or the tissue is severely damaged, a partial meniscectomy may be performed. This procedure involves trimming or removing the torn portion of the meniscus to alleviate pain and improve knee function. The steps involved in partial meniscectomy include:

1. Arthroscopic Access: Similar to meniscus repair, small incisions are made, and an arthroscope is inserted into the knee joint.
2. Evaluation of Tear: The surgeon evaluates the extent and location of the tear to determine the best course of action.
3. Trimming the Meniscus: Using specialized arthroscopic instruments, the surgeon carefully trims away the damaged or torn portion of the meniscus. The goal is to remove as little tissue as necessary to preserve as much of the meniscus as possible.
4. Smoothing the Edges: The edges of the remaining meniscus are smoothed to ensure they do not cause further irritation or damage to the joint.
Partial meniscectomy is often performed as an outpatient procedure, allowing for a relatively quick recovery. Patients typically experience pain relief and improved knee function shortly after surgery.

Meniscal Transplant

In cases of severe meniscus injury where a significant portion of the meniscus has been removed, and the patient continues to experience pain and dysfunction, a meniscal transplant may be considered. This procedure involves replacing the damaged meniscus with donor tissue. The steps involved in a meniscal transplant include:


Preoperative Assessment: Comprehensive evaluation to determine the suitability of the patient for a meniscal transplant. Factors such as age, activity level, and overall knee health are considered.


Selection of Donor Tissue: Donor meniscal tissue is sourced from a cadaver and matched to the patient’s knee size and shape.


Surgical Procedure: The procedure is performed arthroscopically or through a small open incision. The damaged meniscus is removed, and the donor meniscus is carefully placed and secured with sutures or fixation devices.


Postoperative Care: Similar to meniscus repair, the knee is protected with a brace, and physical therapy is initiated to promote healing and restore function.

Meniscal transplants are typically reserved for younger patients with significant meniscal deficiency and persistent symptoms. This procedure aims to restore knee function, alleviate pain, and delay or prevent the onset of osteoarthritis.


To maximise recovery and regain function in the knee joint after surgery, a planned rehabilitation program is necessary. Reduced discomfort and swelling, increased strength and range of motion, and a progressive return to weight-bearing activities and functional motions are the main goals of physical therapy. Several weeks to months may pass during rehabilitation, depending on the surgery’s nature and the patient’s recovery.

Lifestyle Changes:

Changing one’s diet to a healthy weight, avoiding activities that put too much strain on the knee joint, and employing the right form when exercising can all help prevent further injuries and support long-term joint health.

What is Post Surgical Management?

Time Following Surgery (0–2 Weeks):

Pain management: Following surgery, pain and swelling are frequently experienced. The surgeon’s prescription painkillers can aid in the management of discomfort.
Protection and Rest: In order for the knee to heal correctly, rest is necessary. Initially, you may need to reduce weight-bearing and protect the knee joint by using crutches and a knee brace.
Icing and Elevation: You can lessen pain and swelling by icing the affected area and raising the leg.

Phase I of Early Rehabilitation (2–6 weeks):

Physical Therapy: The main goal should be to improve flexibility, strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee joint, and progressively increase range of motion.
Weight-Bearing Progression: You will receive guidance on when and how to start progressively increasing your weight-bearing on the leg that is injured from your surgeon or physical therapist. This is usually a personalized, progressive progression depending on your particular operation and healing process.
Joint Protection: It’s crucial to stay away from activities that put too much strain on the knee joint at this stage, such as intense lifting or high-impact exercises.

Phase II of Intermediate Rehabilitation (6–12 weeks):

Strength Training: As your recovery advances, you should keep concentrating on activities that strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee joint, such as your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles.
Functional Exercises: Sports-specific movements and activities of daily living will be mirrored in functional exercises provided by physical therapy.
Training in Balance and Proprioception: Increasing one’s awareness of one’s own body’s position and movement, or balance, is crucial for maintaining knee stability and preventing injuries.
Gradual Return to exercises: Under the supervision of your medical team, you may progressively resume increasingly strenuous exercises and sports-specific drills, contingent upon the nature of the surgery and your recovery.

Phase III of Advanced Rehabilitation (12+ weeks):

Sport-Specific Training: Your physical therapist will customize your rehabilitation program to meet the unique needs of your sport if you play sports or engage in other recreational activities.
Endurance Training: You can include exercises like swimming, riding, or elliptical training in your regimen to increase your cardiovascular endurance and stamina.
Monitoring Progress: To guarantee the best possible recovery, your medical staff will keep an eye on your development and modify your rehabilitation regimen as necessary.

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Dr.Foo Gen Lin_Apex Sports Clinic