Meniscal Tear

The meniscus is a cartilage cushion between the shinbone (tibia) and thigh bone (femur). It protects and stabilizes the knee joint. Unfortunately, the meniscus can tear with forceful twisting or rotation of the knee and is a very common sports injury.


Meniscus tears are a common overuse injury for young athletes. The common ways this injury can occur include:

  • Twisting

  • Pivoting

  • Improper technique

  • Improper shoewear

  • Improper warm up


Common symptoms related to a meniscus tear are:

  • Stiffness and swelling of the knee joint

  • “Popping” sensation in the knee

  • Pain with twisting or rotating the knee

  • Pain with weight bearing in the joint


To determine if your child has a torn meniscus, our specialists will perform a physical examination, checking for pain along the joint line where the meniscus lies and conducting a test where the knee is bent, then straightened.

To confirm that the meniscus is torn, your child’s doctor may order the following tests:

  • X-rays

  • MRI


Meniscus tears come in many types, and some of them can be treated without surgery while others would benefit from surgery in order to relieve symptoms, protect from further damage, prevent arthritis, and get your child back in the game quickly.

Possible non-surgical treatments your doctor may offer or recommend to treat your child’s meniscus tear include:

  • RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)

  • Physical therapy

  • Strengthening exercises

  • Over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs)

If the tear does not heal on its own, remains symptomatic despite nonoperative treatment, or is severe enough our physicians believe surgery is the best option for your child, we may recommend arthroscopy to evaluate and treat the tear.

At-Home Care

Common at-home treatment options for meniscus tear include:

  • Icing the Area:

    Put ice packs wrapped in a towel or thin cloth on your child’s affected area for 20–30 minutes every 3-4 hours for the first 2-3 days. If pain does not go away, contact your healthcare provider.

  • Elevating the Injured Limb:

    If your child has a broken leg, elevate it by placing it on a pillow when your child is lying down. Elevating it above the heart level can help reduce swelling and pain.

  • Taking Non-Prescription Medication:

    Take a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen as recommended by your healthcare provider.

  • Exercising:

    Your doctor may recommend doing exercises at home. These are designed to stretch the affected joint, maintain range of motion in the joint and strengthen your child’s joint.

See more information

Sports Medicine