Twisting or over-flexing the knee can cause a tear in the meniscus cartilage in the knee. These tough, springy cartilage discs act as “shock absorbers,” forming a protective cushion between the bones. They also help to lubricate the knee joint and keep the knee from over-extending during normal movements, such as walking.
Meniscus tears are a common cause of knee pain, especially in athletes. They often happen at the same time as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.
When a torn meniscus keeps your knee from working properly, Rush orthopedic experts can help you get back to normal activity.
When Should I Get Help for a Torn Meniscus?
See a sports medicine specialist if you have any of these symptoms after a knee injury:
- A “pop” at the time of injury (also a symptom of an ACL tear)
- Knee joint pain when walking
- Knee pain in the space between the bones that gets worse when gentle pressure is applied to the joint
- Locking of the knee joint
- A feeling that something is caught in your knee and is popping as the knee bends back and forth (this is called “catching”)
- Difficulty squatting down
- Swelling in the knee joint
Care for a Torn Meniscus at Rush
Rush sports medicine specialists offer a full range of nonsurgical and surgical treatments for meniscus tears. Your doctor will go over all of your options and help you decide which one is right for you.
Not all meniscus tears require surgery. In fact, the following could relieve your pain completely:
- RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Cortisone or hyaluronic acid injections to reduce inflammation
- Physical therapy
If other conservative therapies aren't helping, you may benefit from platelet-rich plasma (PRP), injections of your body's own concentrated platelets.
It's important to note that even though conservative treatments can relieve symptoms, most of the time a torn meniscus won't heal completely without surgery.
- Meniscus repair: Some meniscus tears can be repaired with surgery. Because Rush orthopedic surgeons realize the important protective role of the meniscus, we repair it whenever possible, removing only the areas that are too badly damaged to restore. At Rush, meniscus repair surgery is a minimally invasive procedure, so you spend less time in the hospital and recover more quickly.
- Meniscus removal surgery: Tears in certain areas of the meniscus can’t be mended with surgery. In these cases, the meniscus may need to be removed. This procedure is called meniscectomy. Rush orthopedic surgeons perform meniscectomy in an outpatient surgical setting using small incisions (arthroscopic surgery)
- Meniscus transplant: If you have had your meniscus completely removed in a previous surgery, your surgeon can replace the missing meniscus with a human meniscus transplant. Your surgeon will do this procedure arthroscopically. The transplanted meniscus will heal and function much like your own meniscus, giving you a more stable, less painful knee and helping prevent future arthritis.
Rush Excellence in Meniscus Tear Care
- Nationally ranked program: U.S. News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center No. 5 in the nation and best in Illinois for orthopedics.
- Leaders in cartilage restoration: Orthopedic surgeons at Rush have played a key role in developing and testing treatments to repair and replace meniscus cartilage, including cartilage transplant and biologic therapies like platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
- Convenient care: We offer comprehensive care for meniscus tears at all of our Rush orthopedic care locations. So whether you live in downtown Chicago, the suburbs or Northwest Indiana, you have the convenience of scheduling your surgery, clinic visits, imaging tests and physical therapy close to home.