What are Medial Meniscus Tears?

What are Medial Meniscus Tears?

What are Medial Meniscus Tears?

Medial meniscus tears are  exactly what they sound like-- tears to the mensicus cartilage of the inside of the knee. 

What is The Medial Meniscus and why is it so important?

We can think of the medial meniscus as "cushion cartilage" for the knee. Think of it as the shock absorber on the inside of the knee. Without our medial meniscus, we would be subject to osteoathritis. 

How do medial meniscus tears usually happen?


Meniscus tears can happen a couple of different ways:

  1. Direct contact to the knee
  2. Twisting of the knee
  3. Degeneration, often seen in older athletes

How Do the Medial Meniscus Tears Relate to ACL Tears?

You may have read extensive information on this blog about ACL tears. We've even featured athletes who have played on after suffering ACL tears.

But we usually recommend that athletes have their ACL repaired immediately. Why? Because a torn ACL exposes the meniscus to possible damage. And once the medial meniscus is gone, we face a much higher chance of painful arthritis.

Lateral Meniscus Tears vs Medial Meniscus Tears

A tear to the medial meniscus is the more common injury. The lateral meniscus is on the outside of the knee, while the medial meniscus is on the inside of the knee. Reference the diagram below for a visual reference.


The Various Types of medial meniscus tears:

Here's a list of the different types of meniscus tears.

  • Longitudinal
  • Bucket-handle
  • Displaced bucket handle
  • Root detachments
  • Parrot beak
  • Radial
  • Displaced flap
  • Horizontal
  • Degenerative

What Are The Symptoms of medial meniscus tears?


If you injure your meniscus, you will know it. Here are the symptoms of a medial meniscus tear.

  • Pain
  • Swelling and stiffness, increasing 2 to 3 days
  • Catching or locking
  • Instability

ACL Tear Plus Medial Meniscus Tears: One Surgery or Two?

Do you need two surgeries for an ACL and Meniscus Tear...or can it be done with one? This time on the SportsMedicine Minute, Dr. Bill Sterett answers the question.

It's not uncommon for athletes to suffer an ACL tears followed by medial meniscus tears. It's not uncommon for athletes to suffer an ACL tear followed by a meniscus tear. In the past, repairing the meniscus and the ACL took two surgeries. Now we can do it in one.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, surgical meniscus repairs often necessitated large incisions. This created more trauma and much higher risk of scar tissue. The old two-incision ACL reconstructions were also very painful. They increased the risk of scarring. We had to push people hard in rehab to get their range of motion back because the surgeries hurt so darn much.

Now it's 2018. We have techniques to repair the meniscus arthroscopically only. Combined with minimally invasive ACL reconstruction techniques, less painful graft choices, and better post operative pain control techniques, the risk of scar tissue forming has been drastically reduced.

Something else interesting to note here. Some postulate that the meniscus heals better due to the growth factors released from the surgical trauma of ACL reconstruction.

Many of us are comfortable with performing the majority of ACL and meniscus tears in one sitting. Even in the NFL, it is now rare for players to undergo a planned two stage repair and reconstruction.

Read more here.

What are the common Types of Knee Surgeries?

What are the common Types of Knee Surgeries?

ACL Tear Recovery - The Good News

ACL Tear Recovery - The Good News