There are three bones in the knee, the femur, tibia and patella. The ends of those bones are covered with cartilage (a smooth material that cushions the bone and allows the joint to move easily without pain). The cartilage acts as a shock absorber. Between the bones of the knees are two crescent-shaped discs of connective tissue, called menisci. These also act as shock absorbers to cushion the lower part of the leg from the weight of the rest of the body.
The following are the most common symptoms of a torn meniscus. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Pain, especially when holding the knee straight
- Swelling and stiffness
- Knee may catch, click, or lock
- Knee may feel weak
The symptoms of a torn meniscus may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Meniscus tears can happen during a rotating movement while bearing weight, such as when twisting the upper leg while the foot stays in one place during sports and other activities. Tears can be minor, with the meniscus staying connected to the knee, or major, with the meniscus barely attached to the knee by a cartilage thread.
Call your healthcare provider if your knee:
- Locks or catches or makes a clicking, popping, or grinding sound
- Is painful and/or swollen
- Feels weak or buckles