Meniscal Tears

There are two menisci, or “cushions,” in each of your knees that act as stabilizing shock absorbers between your tibia (shinbone) and femur (thighbone). Meniscal tears often occur while playing sports from twisting the knee during a fast pivot, squat, or direct blow. Specialized imaging, such as X-rays and MRIs, are often used to determine the extent, specific type, and location of the injury.

One type of meniscus tear is a meniscal root tear, which is a tear in the meniscus close to the center of the knee where the cartilage attaches to the top of the shin bone (tibial head). A root tear can occur due to trauma or degeneration over time often through a twisting injury or from repetitive kneeling and bending.

Your team of specialists at Orthopaedic Specialists will create a customized treatment approach for you according to the location and extent of the meniscal injury, your age, activity level, the duration of symptoms, other related injuries, and personalized treatment goals.


  • Knee pain
  • Swelling
  • Feels like your knee is unstable
  • Feels like your knee “catches” or “locks”
  • Decreased range of motion in your knee


There are nonsurgical and surgical treatment options available for meniscal tears and meniscal root tears. Both treatment types are performed by our knee specialists at Orthopaedic Specialists.

Nonsurgical Treatments

The outer parts of the meniscus have a very rich blood supply and may heal on their own following nonsurgical treatments such as R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression (cold packs), and elevation), avoiding aggravating activities, wearing a knee brace, taking anti-inflammatories, and/or physical therapy. While nonsurgical treatment can relieve mild cases of the condition, surgery may be necessary for severe cases.

Surgical Treatments

Knee Arthroscopy (Minimally Invasive)

Orthopaedic surgeons, Dr. John Hoffman, Dr. Tuvi Mendel, and Dr. Kristyn Darmafall, perform knee arthroscopy as a minimally invasive method of relieving knee pain due to meniscal injury. During surgery, a small incision is made through which an arthroscope, or small video camera, is inserted to allow your surgeon to view the surgery on a monitor. This technique results in a smaller incision, less scarring, less pain, and faster recovery than older, open surgical procedures.


Special instrumentation is used to trim away damaged, non-repairable meniscal tissue. Some areas of the meniscus do not have sufficient blood supply to heal and must be trimmed to alleviate the symptoms.

Meniscus Repair

Depending on the type and specific location of your meniscal injury, your surgeon may treat the repair by suturing the torn meniscus back together. For a meniscus root repair, your surgeon would need to reattach the meniscus to the bone.

Recovery Process

Returning to normal activity following a surgical procedure is an important process that can take time. Depending on the type of technique used for your operation, you may need to spend a few days and up to a week or more off of work and your daily schedule. With a meniscus repair procedure, you may be required to wear a brace, which keeps the knee in the optimal position, for about six weeks. 

Physical rehabilitation will begin soon after the surgery, which includes flexing and straightening the knee joint without putting weight on it. Eight to twelve weeks of therapy is typically recommended, although your experience may vary. After this period, you should be able to perform non-impact sports and other activities based on your progress, gradually returning to more strenuous exercises. Our orthopaedic surgeons can provide more specific details during your consultation and follow-up appointments.