Many adults have meniscus tears and do not even know it.  If an MRI is obtained these meniscal tears are typically found to be degenerative or attritional tears. Attritional tears are occasionally painful and may flare up with certain activities.

Most painful meniscus tears in adults are usually larger “flap” tears. These meniscal tears typically will cause pain with kneeling, squatting, pivoting, or going down stairs. Occasionally they will even hurt at night when you roll over in bed. Some people may feel popping or snapping.  Some people will also describe that the knee “gives way.”  This may occur if a torn piece is becoming caught between the bones in the knee.  For more information please refer to the section dedicated to Meniscal Tears.

Meniscus Tears




About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very "social" patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision making principles --- all geared to improve your quality of life. Please read our Disclaimer

4 comments on “What are the most common symptoms of a meniscus tear?

  1. Thank you for this. I have been diagnosed with a tear and have been a long-distance runenr for more than 30 years (probably the cause). After my last marathon, I was told not to run any more I’ve stopped running now for two years and it’s been devastating. I’m wondering if it is okay to use an eliptical machine and not have surgery. When I do run (which is very, very little), I don’t have pain’, but I definitely feel it. I’m not convinced surgery is the answer and I’m nervous about it. The stories I hear about surgery do not appear to help’ resolve the problem and allow patients to resume activities they were doing before surgery without pain. I’m wondering if I’ll ever run again

    1. Having a minimally symptomatic tear is not necessarily a reason to stop running. Most surgeons would agree that a minimally symptomatic or bothersome meniscus tear theoretically should enable the patient to return to their “normal” activities (within reason). I do not allow people who rock climb, hike mountains, works of roofs, or climb trees to go back … simply because that one painful episode- which may or may not occur could be life threatening, but that’s not the issue here.

      Second… if the surgery is properly indicated (your story matches your exam and is confirmed by an MRI) and the surgery is performed well… then you have a reasonably (very) good chance of returning to an active lifestyle.

      Thanks for stopping by … I hope this information on meniscus tears was useful!
      Howard Luks, MD

  2. has a meniscus replacement been invented ? What options do I have is bone on bone? How can a valve in the heart be replaced but we can not replace a washer in the knee ? I would appreciate any thoughts ?

    1. Yes.. meniscal transplants have been performed for years. Heart surgeons replace heart valves, just like orthopedists replace knees. Unfortunately there are two types of cartilage in the knee. The meniscus is only one of them. If you are missing the cartilage on the end of the bone, or the articular cartilage and the bones are running together, then only addressing the meniscus won’t work.

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