Torn Meniscus: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 3/24/2020

A torn meniscus is an injury or tear in a meniscus of the knee joint. The knee joint has two menisci, two large C-shaped cartilages that are positioned on the top of the tibia (shin) bone at the knee. They are referred to as the medial meniscus and lateral meniscus.

Signs and symptoms associated with a torn meniscus include

  • feeling a popping sensation in the knee at the time of injury,
  • knee stiffness,
  • knee swelling,
  • pain when moving the knee,
  • difficulty straightening the knee fully, or
  • feeling like knee is locked in place.

Other symptoms can include feeling that knee is giving way and a limited range of motion of the knee joint.

Causes of a torn meniscus

Trauma involving forceful twisting or hyperflexing of the knee joint causes a tear in the meniscus.

Other torn meniscus symptoms and signs

  • Difficulty Straightening the Knee Fully
  • Feeling a Popping Sensation in the Knee at the Time of Injury
  • Feeling Like Knee Is Locked in Place
  • Feeling That the Knee Is Giving Way
  • Knee Stiffness
  • Knee Swelling
  • Limited Range of Motion of the Knee Joint
  • Pain When Moving the Knee


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.