What are the Different Meniscus Symptoms?

Ken Black

Meniscus is a painful condition of torn cartilage in the area of the knee. While meniscus symptoms often include swelling and tenderness, the pain in the knee is the most common and most bothersome to the patient. Complicating matters is that meniscus symptoms closely mimic other conditions, some more and some less serious. Therefore, anyone thinking they may have torn cartilage in the knee should never try to diagnose themselves, but seek treatment from a medical professional.

A diagram of the knee, showing the lateral and medial menisci.
A diagram of the knee, showing the lateral and medial menisci.

One of the most common of the meniscus symptoms is pain on one side of the knee or the other. Pain on both sides of the knee may indicate something else, such as arthritis or other orthopedic problems. Still, any knee pain could be meniscus, as it affects some people differently than others. If the pain has come on suddenly, and as the result of physical exertion, there is a good chance that it is not part of a chronic condition and can be treated effectively.

A person wearing a meniscus brace.
A person wearing a meniscus brace.

Swelling and reduced mobility often go hand in hand, at least during the initial hours after a tear. These meniscus symptoms may seem as though they are more of an inconvenience than anything else, but the reduced mobility could severely hamper a person's ability to move around naturally. Sometimes, the cartilage injury will cause the knee to lock into place, and make it nearly impossible to bend. In other cases, the patient may be able to bend the knee, but there could be a clicking sound.

Weakness in the area of the knee is another symptom of meniscus. This symptom also has the ability to potentially be very dangerous. It could cause someone to lose their balance, especially when walking up or down stairs because of the extra strain required. Falling on the stairs could cause a person to sustain an even more serious injury and require immediately medical treatment.

For those with meniscus symptoms, it may be possible to treat the injury with rest and applications of ice. The determining factor in the treatment method is often how severe the pain is, and how much the patient can cope with it. While many can live without ever having to face reconstructive knee surgery, there is also a potential the symptoms could worsen.

The most common way to tell whether knee symptoms are caused by meniscus, or some other ailment, is through the use of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. These machines help orthopedic doctors by revealing the tear in detail. The images can also help the doctor plan an appropriate course of action to reduce the symptoms.

Any knee pain can be linked to the meniscus.
Any knee pain can be linked to the meniscus.

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