Skip to main content

Meniscus Tear

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.


A meniscus tear

is a tear in the cartilage of your knee. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage (strong tissue) between your thighbone and shinbone. The meniscus helps to cushion your knee joint and keep it stable.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You cannot move your knee at all.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your symptoms do not improve with treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • A pop or tear when the injury happens
  • Pain and swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Popping, catching, or locking of your knee
  • Not being able to extend your knee fully

Treatment for a meniscus tear

depends on the type of tear you have. Some types of meniscus tears can heal on their own. You may need any of the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children younger than 6 months without direction from a healthcare provider.
  • Rest your knee. Avoid activities that make the swelling or pain worse. You may need to avoid putting weight on your leg while you have pain. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you use crutches.
  • Apply ice on your knee for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Compress your knee with an elastic bandage, air cast, medical boot, or splint to reduce swelling. Ask your healthcare provider which compression device to use, and how tight it should be.
  • Elevate your knee above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your knee on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
  • Surgery may be needed if your symptoms do not improve. Your healthcare provider may trim away or repair damaged tissue.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Meniscus Tear

Care guides

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.