Patients' Guide to Meniscus Tears in the Knee

The menisci stabilize the knee and act as shock absorbers and help to prevent articular cartilage damage

Understanding Meniscus Injuries in the Knee

How Does a Meniscus Injury or Tear Feel?

A meniscus is a commonly injured structure inside of the knee and can cause various amounts of knee pain.  Where as ligament injuries are associated with instability, meniscus injuries are associated with locking.

The two knee menisci are inside of the knee joint on the inside (medial) and outside (lateral).  The meniscus can be torn from a contact injury, twisting motion or from wear and tear or degeneration. Often times the meniscus can block or lock the knee from moving thought it's normal range of motion.

The knee menisci are made up of the cartilage similar to the ear and have a very low blood supply making it difficult for them to self-repair.  Small meniscal tears do very well with physical therapy because they do not get inflamed as much do to their low blood supply.  In larger types of meniscal tears in patient sunder 40 years old, surgical meniscal repair is the optimal treatment choice to pressure the knee and prevent degenerative knee pain with aging.

Symptoms for this type of knee injury often include a sharp pinching knee pain with standing and twisting. The medial meniscus is on the inside of the knee between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). The lateral meniscus is on the outside of the knee between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone).

How is a Meniscus Injury or Tear Diagnosed?

There are 6 classifications for meniscal tears all of which cause knee pain.

How Can a Physical Therapist Help a Torn Meniscus?

Physical Therapist have long been helpful and successful in getting a faster and more complete remedy for their meniscus injury. Often times, patients will come to the clinic in a brace and partial weight bearing. It is a physical Therapist's training and experience that help restore motion and regain strength will protecting the injured tissue.  We are expert at analyzing moment and restoring your function so you can get back to your preferred sport or activity in the shortest period of time. 

How Long Does it Take for a Meniscal Injury to Heal?

Depending on the severity of the tear,  most small meniscal tears recover in 3-6 weeks.  Depending on a patient's goals and severity of injury, the meniscus will become less irritable and non-operative patients should be able to return to their normal routines in 2 months.

Can a Meniscal Tear Be Prevented?

No injury can be completely prevented but there are ways to reduce the chances and severity of a meniscal injury.  Maintaining proper strength, alignment, balance and flexibility are helpful in protecting the knee.  Prophylactic bracing has also been shown to reduce the severity of knee injuries. 

Get Your Knee Evaluated

Physical Therapy Treatment for Meniscus Tear

Westlake Village, Los Angeles, Encino and Simi Valley, California patients that have experienced a meniscus injury are encouraged to contact the Doctors at Athletic Physical Therapy for an orthopedic examination. Our Sports Physical Therapists are knee specialist and highly experienced at treating knee injuries, including a meniscus tear before of after knee surgery. Many times surgery is not indicated and with proper physical therapy treatment meniscual injuries can be fully rehabilitated. 


For additional information on the knee meniscus, or for more resources on a meniscal injury, please contact the specialists at Athletic Physical Therapy for sports and orthopedic knee treatments with offices located in Westlake Village, Los Angeles, Encino, and Simi Valley California communities.

Get Your Knee Evaluated