Pain with a torn outer meniscus | Torn outer meniscus

Pain with a torn outer meniscus

The knee joint is one of the most stressed joints of the body. Tears in the outer meniscus are often noticed as a result of stabbing or pulling pain, which often occurs under stress and is perceived as extremely unpleasant. Depending on the cause of the tear in the outer meniscus and the extent of the injury, different types of pain can occur.

In general, a distinction can be made between acute and chronic damage to the cartilage. Pain associated with acute injuries to the knee joint is usually composed of a variety of injuries to the cartilage and surrounding soft tissue. In contrast, chronic pain is usually caused by wear and tear of the cartilage tissue and develops gradually.

Ideally, the menisci of the knee joint and the fluid in the joint space allow smooth and painless movement. In the event of a rupture of the outer meniscus, this frictionless movement may be restricted, which leads to the painful symptoms. Especially when parts of the cartilage are torn off and are located in the joint space, they cause friction and lead to pain.

In the case of a degenerative injury, in addition to increased friction and detached cartilage parts, the inflammatory reaction of the body also plays a significant role in the pain development. In addition, detached cartilage parts cause the bones involved in the knee joint to rub against each other, which can lead to pain. Pain that occurs when the outer meniscus is torn can be treated acutely with painkillers. In the case of minor injuries, conservative therapy can help to improve the pain symptoms, whereas in the case of extensive cartilage damage, usually only surgery is available as a treatment method for pain reduction. Pain in the outer knee could also be an indication of a stretching or rupture of the outer ligament and must be distinguished from meniscus damage.


A torn outer meniscus can be treated with a surgical method, especially if there is severe damage to the cartilage. There are a number of different options available for surgical treatment of the injury. The operations are carried out as part of a joint endoscopy (arthroscopy) so that hardly any scars remain after the operation.

If the cartilage is only slightly damaged, suturing of the tear in the cartilage is used. By using modern suture materials and techniques, the damaged cartilage can thus be reattached to the bone and healing of the injured structure can be achieved. However, this surgical method is not possible for all forms of external meniscus tears.

The localisation of the tear is of particular importance and determines the feasibility of the operation. A further possibility is the partial removal of the outer meniscus. In this case, the torn off piece of cartilage is removed from the joint space so that it cannot impair normal joint mobility.

The partial removal of the outer meniscus can prevent consequential damage and minimize the discomfort of the injury. However, partial removal is only possible if the damage to the cartilage does not exceed a certain level, otherwise arthrosis of the joint may occur. If the damage to the outer meniscus is greater, a cartilage transplantation may be considered.

In this form of treatment, a distinction must be made between artificial and human cartilage replacement. Human cartilage replacement usually comes from deceased accident victims whose meniscus is intact. Since the waiting times for a human implant are often very long, an artificial implant made of polyurethane or collagen is usually used in acute cases. The duration of post-operative treatment varies from one surgical method to another and also depends on the extent of the injury. Particularly in the case of implantation of cartilage tissue, a long post-treatment period must be expected, whereas loading is possible more quickly after suturing or partial resection of the injury.