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Meniscus Tear

What is a meniscus tear?

The meniscus is a crescent-shaped structure that cushions the knee joint. It is, in essence, the “shock absorber” of the knee. There are two menisci in each knee, one in the inner region of the knee joint (the medial meniscus) and one in the outer region of the knee joint (lateral meniscus). The tissue of the meniscus can be torn suddenly during a twisting-type injury or sometimes from wear and tear over time.

What are the symptoms of a meniscus tear?

Meniscus tears typically lead to swelling of the knee joint and pain. Sometimes a piece of the torn meniscus can become lodged in the knee, making it difficult to straighten the knee or walk. This injury can occur in individuals of all ages.

How are meniscus tears diagnosed?

Diagnosis is generally made through a discussion with your doctor and a thorough examination. Most patients will need an MRI when a tear is suspected. X-rays are also taken in some patients with suspected meniscus tears to evaluate bone structure and to rule out other conditions, such as arthritis.

How are meniscus tears treated?

The treatment of a meniscus tear depends on the type of tear and is individualized to the patient. Surgery to treat meniscus tears includes meniscus debridement or partial meniscectomy, in which the torn part of the meniscus is removed. Alternatively the surgeon may do a meniscus repair in which the torn part is sewn back together. If you suspect that you have a torn meniscus, see your sports medicine specialist to determine your best treatment plan.

Sports Medicine Appointments & Referrals


Sports Medicine Locations

UC San Diego Health offers expertise in sports medicine within family medicine, orthopedics, surgery and rehab. Not all services are available at all locations.

La Jolla



Scripps Ranch