A torn meniscus is among the most common injuries that lead to an orthopedic evaluation for knee pain.
They are typically acute injuries that happen when your foot is planted with weight bearing and you are twisting or changing directions. This is very common during participation in sports, but can happen during daily life as well.
Many patients actually feel a “tearing” sensation when the injury happens, but this is not always the case. The symptoms usually involve sharp, stabbing pain and stiffness of the knee.
What Is a Torn Meniscus?
First, meniscus is basically a little bumper or cushion inside the knee that helps distribute pressure within the knee and help take pressure away from cartilage.
These can commonly get torn with a twisting maneuver or a turning maneuver or a very hyperflexion maneuver.
When we have a tear of a meniscus, it commonly causes sharp pain, makes your knee feel like it wants to give out, or feel like there’s something that’s out of place.
Can You Walk With a Torn Meniscus?
There are many meniscus tears that are what I would call an incidental finding, meaning that it’s been there for a long time. Patients get an MRI ordered because they have knee pain and we find a meniscus tear.
So it’s really important to distinguish which tears are actually causing pain and which ones are not because a lot of times it can just be the arthritis that’s causing pain.
So you can have a meniscus tear and get along fine and it’s not causing problems.
When Is It Time to Treat a Torn Meniscus Surgically?
Meniscus tears that are symptomatic typically cause sharp pain, particularly with twisting or putting weight on the knee.
If the knee gets that pain when you twist or turn or the knee wants to buckle or give way, that is the time when you want to have a surgery to take care of a meniscus tear.