8. Symptoms of a Torn Meniscus Caused by Injury
When the meniscus is torn in a sudden injury, the pain is immediate. When the injury occurs, the individual may feel a popping or snapping sensation in the area as the leg is twisted or violently struck. Pain will occur in the area of the tear. A torn lateral meniscus will result in pain on the outside of the knee. Meanwhile, a torn medial meniscus will cause pain on the inside of the knee. With time, the pain will radiate throughout the knee. Meniscus injury is accompanied by swelling and a buildup of fluid in the joint. If pieces of cartilage break off, they may lodge in the knee, causing it to lock up and become difficult to straighten.
7. Symptoms of a Torn Meniscus Caused by Degenerative Disease
A torn meniscus due to an injury causes immediate pain. However, tears caused by osteoarthritis or other degenerative diseases may result in a slow onset of symptoms that build up over time. With time, as symptoms worsen, the individual may notice knee pain, stiffness, swelling, and a loss of range of motion. Pain may be especially noticeable when twisting or turning the knee. Sometimes the knee may feel as if it is giving out as the individual is walking. Again, there is the risk of a piece of cartilage breaking off of the meniscus and becoming trapped, causing the knee to lock up or pop.
To diagnose a meniscal tear, a physician will take a medical history to understand the onset of symptoms. The doctor will conduct a physical exam to check the range of motion, rotation, and assess whether the knee is locking. The McMurray test involves rotating the knee to test for pain or a “click” that indicates a tear in the lateral meniscus. The Apley’s Compression test is another maneuver that will alert the physician to damage to the meniscus. To rule out other types of knee injury, your doctor may order x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to get a clearer picture of what is happening inside the knee.