Meniscus/Cartilage Tears in Knees

Jan 10th, 2022

Meniscus/cartilage tears in knees
Written by HPC Volunteers Ashlyn Dolbear and Bryan Crawford

The meniscus of the knee is made of cartilage and is located between the bone of the thigh (femur) and the bone of the shin (tibia). It is responsible for protecting these bones and absorbing force. A meniscus tear typically happens as a result of twisting the knee with the foot planted. It can also happen while squatting or kneeling.


Signs and Symptoms You May Experience If You Have a Tear in Your Meniscus/Cartilage
•    Popping sound upon injury
•    Pain when twisting the knee or touching the joint. 
•    Swelling 24 hours after the injury has occurred. 
•    Locking or knee instability which can affect walking. 
•    Stiffness and loss of full range of motion (ie. You are unable to bend and straighten the knee as far as you can normally).

Meniscus/Cartilage Tear Treatments
Meniscus tears sometimes require surgery, but this is rare in the general population. Most meniscus tears become pain free over time. If you are diagnosed with a meniscus tear, your HPC practitioner may prescribe rest, ice, elevation, compression, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Additionally, exercises to improve range of motion may be incorporated. Surgery may be required if the tear occurred on the inner ⅔ of the meniscus as this region does not receive enough blood flow to heal the injury. Additionally, athletes may opt to receive surgery because it can lead to a quicker recovery time.

Surgical treatment for a meniscus tear can be a partial meniscectomy, or a meniscus repair. These surgeries both require a small incision and are typically done arthroscopically. A partial meniscectomy removes the injured section of the meniscus while a meniscus repair stitches the tear back together. This surgery has the same risks of any surgery including blood clots and infection, but it is relatively low risk. Surgery may allow for faster recovery, but physiotherapy can be just as effective. Physiotherapy may consist of strengthening the knee stabilizers such as the quadriceps and stretching.

If you and your physician have decided that you are a surgery candidate and you plan to undergo surgery, you should also plan your post-surgical rehabilitation process. Expect excellence in your physiotherapist.⁠

Give HPC a call at 519-767-5011 to begin planning your post-surgical rehabilitation process.⁠


*About the HPC Student Volunteer Program*

Each year, approximately 30 University of Guelph students are selected following a competitive application process to take part in the “HPC Volunteer Program.” This program provides an opportunity for U of G student volunteers to translate their academic knowledge into practice, while gaining first-hand experience and mentorship from the team of certified physiotherapists and chiropractors at the University of Guelph’s Health and Performance Centre. As a result of this exceptional partnership between the University of Guelph and the HPC practitioners, students can gain valuable insight on evidence-based practice prior to graduating from their respective programs. Click here for more information on co-curricular experiential learning opportunities at the University of Guelph. The following article was written by members of the 2021-22 HPC Student Volunteer Program.


Book an Appointment