7 Causes of Torn Meniscus

The menisci are C-shaped bands of cartilage that run along the top of the knee. These rubbery pieces of tissue help the joint to smoothly move and withstand constant stress from bending, running, and walking. A torn meniscus can make it hard to move your knee, and your knee may feel like it is stiff or locked into place. There is often a lot of pain, especially when you are moving the knee, and sometimes you can hear a popping or grinding noise. The area may look swollen or feel slightly warm to the touch. In mild cases, the torn meniscus can heal on its own. If the tear is very small, your doctor might just recommend that you rest, take over the counter painkillers, and ice it to bring down swelling.

However, most people need physical therapy. Some may even end up requiring surgery. A surgical treatment can reattach the meniscus or remove anything obstructing the joint, and it is typically needed for those who are still dealing with pain after rehab. Since dealing with a torn meniscus is so tough, it is important to avoid doing things that could tear it. There are many different causes of a torn meniscus.

1. Sudden Pivoting of the knee

This is the primary cause of a torn meniscus. Almost all tears happen when the knee joint is forcefully twisted or hyper-flexed, so any sudden pivoting can be problematic. This type of motion tends to occur when a person twists to one side or the other while placing a lot of their weight on the knee. It can happen during sporting events. Things like tennis, soccer, and basketball that involve a lot of sharp turns while running are particularly likely to cause meniscus tears. In some cases, the pivot can occur when a person has an accident that forces the knee to pivot sharply.

However, a person does not have to be doing anything extraordinarily active to have a meniscus tear happen while pivoting the knee. It can occur when you are doing something simple like turning to talk to someone or rounding a corner. The cartilage in the knee degrades with age, so seniors are particularly likely to get a torn meniscus after pivoting their knee. Those with particularly fragile knees may need to exercise a lot of caution when making bodily movements. Seniors might have to avoid pivoting their knee altogether if they want to keep their meniscus safe.