Torn Meniscus | Symptoms and Causes

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What are the symptoms of a torn meniscus?

The symptoms of a meniscus tear may include:

  • a “popping” sensation in the knee
  • stiffness and swelling
  • pain when twisting or rotating the knee
  • difficulty in fully straightening the knee, or feeling like the knee is locking
  • tenderness in the joint line
  • collection of fluid (“water on the knee”)

What are the causes of a torn meniscus?

As more and more kids participate in organized sports, there’s been a rise in the number of meniscal tears and other overuse injuries (microtraumas to bones, tendons, ligaments or muscles) among adolescents and children, largely from repetitively using the same parts of the body. Football, tennis and basketball players can tear a meniscus by twisting the knee, pivoting, cutting or decelerating.

In young athletes, the meniscus can tear in a number of different ways. They often get longitudinal or “bucket-handle” tears if the femur and tibia trap the meniscus when the knee turns. Less often, young athletes get a combination of tears called radial or “parrot beak,” in which the meniscus splits in two directions due to repetitive stress activities, such as running.

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