Medial Meniscus Tears: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

Knee Pain

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The human knee is a complex joint that relies on the perfect coordination of bones, ligaments, and cartilage to function seamlessly. Among the vital components of the knee joint, the menisci play a crucial role in providing stability, distributing weight, and ensuring smooth movement. However, injuries to the menisci are not uncommon, and one of the frequently encountered issues is a medial meniscus tear. In this article, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options associated with medial meniscus tears.

Anatomy of the Knee and the Medial Meniscus

The tibia (shin bone), patella (knee cap), and femur (thigh bone) make up the knee joint. The C-shaped cartilage wedges that sit between the femur and tibia are called menisci. Each knee has two menisci: the lateral meniscus, which is on the outside, and the medial meniscus, which is on the inside.

The menisci are essential for shock absorption, load distribution, joint stabilisation, and lubrication, among other things. Compared to the lateral meniscus, the medial meniscus is more vulnerable to injury because of its location.

Causes of Medial Meniscus Tears

Medial meniscus tears frequently arise from either sudden traumatic injuries or gradual wear and tear. Key contributing factors include:

  1. Trauma: A medial meniscus tear can occur following a sudden twisting or forceful impact on the knee, particularly during activities such as sports that involve pivoting or abrupt changes in direction.
  2. Degenerative Changes: With advancing age, the menisci are susceptible to degenerative alterations, heightening the likelihood of tears. This process is often linked to the gradual breakdown of cartilage over time.
  3. Repetitive Stress: Activities involving repetitive stress on the knee, such as heavy lifting or prolonged kneeling, can contribute to the onset of meniscus tears. The cumulative impact of these activities may lead to the development of tears over time.

Symptoms of Medial Meniscus Tears

Early diagnosis and treatment of a medial meniscus tear depend on the ability to identify its symptoms. Typical indicators consist of:

Pain: The inner side of the knee is frequently the site of sharp or dull pain in people who have a medial meniscus tear.

Swelling: Usually appearing in the first 24 hours following the injury, swelling around the knee joint is a common symptom.

Limited Range of Motion: A medial meniscus tear can limit the knee’s natural range of motion, making movements like bending or straightening the leg difficult and unpleasant.

Clicking or Popping Sensation: When moving, some persons experience a clicking or popping feeling in their knee, which could be a sign of meniscus damage.

Treatment Options

The approach to treating a medial meniscus tear depends on the severity of the injury and the individual’s overall health. Common treatment options include:

  1. Rest and Ice: Initial management often involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) to reduce pain and swelling.
  2. Physical Therapy: Rehabilitation exercises are crucial to strengthen the surrounding muscles and improve joint stability. Physical therapy can also enhance flexibility and restore range of motion.
  3. Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  4. Bracing: In some cases, a knee brace may be recommended to provide support and limit movement during the healing process.
  5. Minimally Invasive Procedures: Arthroscopic surgery is a common approach for repairing or trimming the torn portion of the meniscus. This minimally invasive procedure allows for quicker recovery compared to traditional open surgery.
  6. Joint Injections: In certain situations, injections of corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid may be considered to manage inflammation and improve symptoms.


A person’s quality of life may be greatly impacted by medial meniscus tears, especially if treatment is not received. Effective symptom management and timely intervention are critical components of a successful recovery. The objectives of treatment, whether conservative or surgical, are to reduce discomfort, restore function, and avoid long-term joint damage. Speak with a medical expert if you think you may have a medial meniscus tear so they can provide you with a thorough assessment and a customised treatment plan.

Medial Meniscus Tears FAQ

Repairing a torn meniscus is occasionally feasible, particularly in children and younger adults. In cases where repair is not viable, surgical trimming of the meniscus may be performed, potentially utilizing minimally invasive techniques with an arthroscope. Following the surgical procedure, engaging in exercises becomes imperative to enhance and sustain knee strength and stability.
Regrettably, meniscal tears typically do not undergo self-healing, particularly when they have extended to a considerable length, such as 1 cm or more. In instances where meniscal tears of this magnitude occur, they often give rise to mechanical issues and persistent pain, necessitating medical intervention.
A torn meniscus can cause chronic knee discomfort, the sensation that your knee is giving way, or an inability to move it as you normally would. Osteoarthritis may be more prone to occur in the injured knee.
Should your MRI reveal a Grade 1 or 2 tear, but your symptoms and physical examination do not align with a tear, surgery may not be deemed necessary. However, Grade 3 meniscus tears typically necessitate surgical intervention, which might involve arthroscopic repair. In this procedure, an arthroscope is inserted into the knee to visualize and address the tear.


If you would like an appointment / review with our medial meniscus tears specialist in Singapore, the best way is to call +65 3135 1327 or click here to book an appointment at the clinic. If you would like to speak to one of our clinicians first, then please contact or SMS/WhatsApp to +65 3135 1327.

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