What is a Meniscus Tear?

What is a Meniscus Tear?, TPL Orthopedics and Sports MedicineThe meniscus is a piece of cartilage that acts as a buffer or cushion between the femur and tibia. Each knee joint has two menisci. Activities or sports that put pressure on or rotate the knee joint can a meniscus tear. More than half a million cases of meniscus tear occur every year in the US.    

Depending on the severity of damage to the meniscus, the treatment options can vary. Board certified orthopedic surgeons at the Knee & Shoulder Institute, Dr. Steven Thomas and Dr. Gregory Bigler, provide treatments for meniscus tear to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and other cities and communities in The Battle Born State.



The patient might hear a popping sound around the knee joint when a meniscus tear occurs. This may be followed by pain, particularly when the site is touched, and other symptoms which include:

  • Swelling
  • Difficulty in moving the knee or perform its full range of motion
  • The feeling of the knee catching or locking
  • The feeling that the knee is unable to support the body or is giving way
  • A popping or slipping sensation, which indicates that a piece of cartilage may have become loose and may be blocking the knee joint

If one or more of these symptoms occur and persist for a few days, or occur after a knee injury, the patient should contact an orthopedic surgeon. If the patient is unable to bend the knee due to locking, the patient should contact the surgeon.


RICE Treatment

A meniscus tear may initially be treated with conservative approaches such as RICE, which includes rest, ice, compression and elevation. The patient should:

  • Rest the knee and use crutches to avoid weight bearing on the joint and avoid activities that could worsen knee pain
  • Apply ice to the painful joint every four hours for 30 minutes
  • Compress the knee in an elastic bandage to mitigate inflammation
  • Elevate the knee to reduce swelling

Pain meds such as ibuprofen and other NSAIDs may be taken to reduce pain and swelling around the knee. The surgeon may recommend physical therapy to strengthen the knee muscles. This will help to improve knee stability and reduce the pain. Massage techniques may be used by a qualified therapist to reduce swelling and stiffness.



If the pain and inflammation does not resolve with conservative therapies, a surgery may have to be performed to treat the meniscus tear. A small incision will be made in the knee, and the surgeon will insert tiny instruments and a camera into the inner structures of the knee to repair or trim away the damaged meniscus. The surgery is typically completed in one hour.

Patients can return home the same day after the surgery. Recovery and rehabilitation will take about six weeks, and the patient will have to wear a knee brace or crutches in this period. Fabulous and sagacious board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Thomas and Dr. Bigler receive patients from Las Vegas, Nevada and nearby areas for meniscus tear repair.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. call (702) 933-9393; Physical Therapy (702) 933-9393.

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