This blog is for our sports players, may you be careful with your knees. Approximately 1 million of you people out there in the US tear your meniscus each year. Your meniscus acts as a rubbery cushion in between the thigh and shin bones in your knee. It’s injured during a loaded twisting knee motion, a diagonal cutting movement, or a quick stop and go motion. Think of what sports players in a basketball, soccer, or football game do, lots of knee twisting. So, how do you know if you’ve torn your meniscus and what can you do about it? Today, we give you the most accurate meniscus tear tests you’ll ever need to know.
How Can You Tear Your Meniscus?
The most common way someone tears a meniscus is by doing any type of activity that causes you to twist, turn, or rotate your knee suddenly or forcefully. An example would be a football player pivoting abruptly to throw a ball or a soccer player doing a sudden stop and turn movement.
Can You Walk with a Torn Meniscus?
This depends, some people find they can walk around with a torn meniscus while others find that the tear locked out their knee and are unable to walk.
What Are the 3 Signs of a Meniscus Tear in the Knee?
You might feel and hear a pop when you tear your meniscus, so that’s a sure sign you tore it. Some other signs include but are not necessarily limited to the following:
- Stiffness or swelling.
- Pain – especially when you’re twisting or rotating your knee and trying to put weight on the leg with the tear.
- Difficulty straightening your knee (feels like it’s locked in place).
5 Meniscus Tear Tests You Can Do from Home
If you suspect you have a meniscus injury, you’re going to want to perform some or all these tests (in the event you get a positive test, be sure to talk to a medical professional to confirm):
1. Joint Line Tenderness Test
You will want to palpate (examine by touch) along the joint line where your pain is located. You will want to feel for pain and tenderness when you put pressure on a certain area.
2. Lack of Full Extension Test
See if you can straighten your leg fully. If you can’t or there’s pain, you could have a meniscus injury like a tear.
3. McMurray’s Test
Lie down on your back with your knee bent. Ask a friend to rotate your foot to the inside of your leg and slowly extend your knee. If you feel pain or an inability to do so (like there’s a block) this could be a sign you have a meniscus injury.
4. Apley’s Compression Test
Lie down on your stomach and bend your knee. Have a friend push down through your foot/tibia and rotate your lower left in (this checks your lateral meniscus) and out (checks your medial meniscus). Any pain would be a positive test.
5. Thessaly or DISCO Test
Stand on your injured leg with a slight (5 degree) bend in your knee. Rotate your upper body as far as you can to the left and then also to the right. Perform this 3 times. Now bend your knee a little deeper (to 20 degrees) and perform the three rotations again. Pain with this motion could indicate a potential meniscus injury.
How to Recover from a Meniscus Injury
Meniscus Traction Exercise
Enter the meniscus traction exercise with a towel. This may help you restore some movement in your knee and can take pressure off the meniscus temporarily. This exercise can also help with some fluid circulation in your knee’s surrounding tissues. Here’s how to do it:
What you need: a towel
- Find a soft surface, like a couch or massage table and get on top of it with a towel (you will be in a child’s pose).
- Place the towel behind your knees and pull it forward super tight.
- Shift your weight back and then forward keeping your sit bones in alignment with your heels (to keep your knee tracking straight), which creates a gap in the knee or traction.
- Take it at your own pace.
Now, after doing this exercise you’re going to want to pay attention to how your knee tracks in all movements, including squats, lunges, and while walking. By learning how to strengthen your knee in any position, you’re going to be more aligned and less likely to injure your knee.
An injury typically happens when your knee is moved into a range of motion or position where you don’t have any control or strength. You can get started by checking out the MoveU Membership to learn more about your knee, what it does, how it moves, and where you’re stable and unstable.