How is a Torn Meniscus Diagnosed?


If you come to your doctor with symptoms consistent with a torn meniscus, they will start with a physical exam and, if necessary, issue imaging tests to help determine the problem.

During the physical exam, your doctor will assess any mobility limitations, pain while standing or bending the knee, leg locking, and stiffness. The exam may include walking, standing, squatting, and your doctor putting pressure on various areas of the leg and knee. If your doctor needs more information following the physical exam, they may order an X-ray or MRI to complete the torn meniscus diagnosis.

How is a Torn Meniscus Treated?


Depending on where the meniscus is torn and how severe the damage is, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan including one or more of the following options: 

  • RICE - A common first line of torn meniscus treatment, doctors may recommend you follow RICE: rest, ice at regular intervals, compress the area of the injury, and elevate the injured body part
  • Medication – Over-the-counter drugs like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) can help with pain during recovery
  • Nonsurgical options - Your doctor may recommend nonsurgical treatment for a torn meniscus, such as physical therapy or neuromuscular electrical stimulation, which can help strengthen and stabilize the knee joint
  • Surgical options - Depending on the severity of your injury, torn meniscus surgery can help repair the meniscus, remove damaged tissue, or remove the meniscus entirely. In advanced degenerative cases accompanied by arthritis, your doctor may suggest knee replacement.



A meniscus tear can feel like a sudden popping sensation in the knee, followed by pain and swelling. Difficulty moving or flexing the knee can also occur.

A torn meniscus can look swollen on the outside, but not always. It’s important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

The knee is a complex joint, and leaving an injury untreated can lead to problems. Even if a torn meniscus is not causing you severe pain, it can escalate if left untreated. A torn meniscus can break off and become lodged in the knee, causing mobility issues and requiring invasive surgery. If the meniscus is not functioning correctly, it can lead to painful arthritis.

Pain is a common symptom of a torn meniscus. It sometimes presents after the initial injury.

Your doctor may recommend physical therapy exercises to help you recover from a torn meniscus. These exercises can include squats, leg raises, and hamstring curls. Talk to your physician about which exercises are best for your recovery.

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Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Torn Meniscus Treatment

The orthopedic and sports medicine experts at NewYork-Presbyterian have a comprehensive understanding of the symptoms and causes of torn menisci. They can help guide you through an appropriate treatment plan. Our world-class specialists can answer any questions and ensure your recovery journey is as efficient and comfortable as possible.