What is a meniscus tear?

The meniscus is made up of 2 menisci, medial which is described as a c-shape and the lateral which is described as a doughnut shape.  They sit between the tibia (shin) and the femur (thigh bone). 

A tear of these can be traumatic due to injury known as an acute meniscal tear or simply due to age related changes or “wear and tear” this is called a degenerative meniscus.

Please see useful links for more information.

Acute meniscus tears

Acute meniscus are often associated with trauma/injury and there can be other structures also involved.  The injury tends to be a forced twisting action, and are largely associated within the sport environment.

The treatment for acute tears may differ from the treatment of degenerative tears, as they may require surgical intervention dependant on the symptoms, in particular mechanical symptoms such as locking and giving way.

Degenerative meniscus

Wear and tear within the meniscus is generally treated with pain relief, exercises and a possibility of a steroid injection to help manage the pain. Surgery is very rarely an option, unless associated with mechanical symptoms.

When to seek advice

If you have severe pain affecting your sleep and daily activities, if you have had a serious injury or you have symptoms that have not improved with self-management, you should contact your GP practice. If you have a red, hot swollen joint please ring 111