Meniscal Tear

You may have felt it when squatting to lift something heavy or after a quick pivot while playing sports. A torn meniscus – also referred to as torn cartilage in the knee – is a common source of knee pain. Depending on the severity, a meniscal tear may be treated with arthroscopic surgery or simply by wearing a brace and physical therapy. 

Circling around the knee bone, the meniscus is a disc-shaped piece of cartilage that sits between the thigh and shin bones. There are two menisci located on the inner and outer portion of the knee. Together, they work to stabilize the body, absorb shock, and cushion the bones that make up the knee.

Pain is the most common symptom of a torn meniscus. In addition to pain, you may feel clicking or locking of the knee joint, limited movement, or the inability to fully flex or extend the knee.

Orthopedic Associates of Lancaster offers a comprehensive approach to recovery with on-site diagnostics, surgery center, and physical therapy. Learn more about how our knee specialists care for your knees.


  • Clicking or locking of the knee
  • Inability to flex or straighten the knee
  • Pain or swelling around the knee


  • Sudden increase in activity or duration or intensity of activity
  • Abnormal contact to the knee, often sports related but may also be from other forms of impact
  • A plant and twist type injury to the knee, common in sports such as soccer and basketball
  • In conjunction with other traumatic injuries such as an ACL/PCL tear

Risk Factors

  • Sports or activities where abnormal motion or contact to the knee can occur
  • Repetitive squatting
  • Activities that include twisting of the knee
  • Having a prior tear
  • Degeneration from arthritis


  • Physical examination of the affected area
  • X-ray to show bone health and possible calcification of the meniscus
  • MRI or CT scan to show soft tissue health and evaluate tears in the ligament

Treatment Options

  • RICE therapy: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
  • Nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief
  • Physical therapy
  • Bracing the affected area
  • Surgical repair or resection of the torn meniscus