Meniscus Tears Are a Common Source of Troublesome Knee Pain


It’s true. A tear in the meniscus tissue of the knee can result in a good deal of pain. The good news is that a little rest and a few physical therapy sessions will soon relieve the pain and enable a full recovery. Actually, torn meniscus tissue is one of the more common causes of painful knee conditions. On the other hand, a meniscus tear isn’t always accompanied by a lot of pain. If the tear is minor and the knee gets some well deserved rest, there’s a good chance that the tear will heal without causing pain.

Why Does it Hurt So Bad?

Many meniscus tears hurt like heck. The crazy thing is that many knee pain sufferers don’t even know what they did to tear the meniscus tissue or otherwise injure their knee. It’s not that difficult to strain a knee while playing a sport or engaging in some other strenuous physical activity.

Accidents of various kinds are also a major cause of meniscus injuries and other sources of knee pain. Something as simple as stumbling while descending a flight of stairs is all it takes to suffer an injury.

  • Compression sleeves can greatly relieve meniscus related pain
  • Meniscus injuries respond well to physical therapy
  • The pain from a torn meniscus is actually caused by an irritated synovium
  • Most minor meniscus injuries will heal naturally
  • A medical examination is recommended for anyone experiencing significant or persistent knee pain

Meniscus Tears

When someone suffers a torn meniscus, the result is a loose flap of meniscus tissue in the knee. Most meniscus injuries cause some degree of pain. The extent and duration of the pain will depend on the severity of the tear and the availability of effective medical care. Early intervention by a qualified medical professional can dramatically lessen or eliminate the pain.

A torn meniscus resulting from a preexisting injury can produce a combination of swelling and pain. As one would expect, younger and active individuals are more likely to suffer a meniscus injury. A torn meniscus can cause mechanical abnormalities such as locking, catching, popping and instability. Even the pain from a traumatic meniscus or knee injury will begin to fade within a few weeks. Expensive medical services such as an MRI or surgery are generally unnecessary. Severe meniscus injuries, especially those that cause knee instability or inflict pain when twisting or pivoting, could possibly require surgery.

Knee Pain

Patients with torn meniscus conditions diagnosed as degenerative may not benefit from a surgical procedure. This is an indication that the knee cartilage may have deteriorated. Nevertheless, most patients suffering from a degenerative meniscus injury will not require surgery. A properly fitted compression sleeve can greatly relieve degenerative meniscus pain. The compression sleeve also allows the torn meniscus to mend and the knee to grow strong.

There’s more than one kind of torn meniscus. The nature of the tear will ultimately determine the level and length of medical care that will be required. Surprisingly, meniscus tissue is not equipped with nerves. The pain is actually caused by injury or inflammation of the knee lining, or synovium. Unlike the meniscus, the synovium is loaded with sensitive nerves. An irritated synovium can cause extensive pain and swelling.

When someone experiences persistent pain after suffering a knee injury, they should be evaluated by a medical professional.

A painful knee condition can be caused by a torn meniscus, synovitis or structural damage to the knee. While most minor meniscus injuries are destined to heal naturally, it’s important to avoid causing further damage to the knee. Knee injuries can be quite painful, making it difficult to sleep and engage in normal daily activities at work or at home. When in doubt, a medical evaluation is the best course of action.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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