Athletes are not the only ones who experience tears to ligaments or cartilage.\nMany people suffer a meniscus tear at some point in their lives. Located in the knee, the meniscus is a piece of cartilage that serves as a buffer between your shin and thigh bones. It also helps to stabilize your knee joint.\nIf you suspect your meniscus is torn, see your doctor or make an appointment as soon as possible at UPMC Orthopedic Care.\nWhy Did My Meniscus Tear?\nA torn meniscus is a common knee injury, and it can happen for a number of reasons. Most frequently, meniscus tears occur while playing sports or because of age.\nIn sports, an unexpected tackle or abrupt change of direction that forces your knee the wrong way can cause the meniscus to tear. These same movements off the field or court also can result in a torn meniscus.\nAnd as we age, the meniscus becomes weak and thin. Simply moving or standing too quickly can result in a tear.\nWhat Are the Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear?\nWhen the meniscus tears, it may sound like your knee joint \u201cpops.\u201d Here are some other symptoms that can indicate a torn meniscus:\n\nPain and swelling around the knee\nThe feeling that your knee \u201clocks up\u201d\nInability of the knee to support any weight\nInability to fully straighten your knee joint\n\nSymptoms may vary depending on the severity of the tear. In milder cases you might experience only slight swelling, while a more severe tear can cause the knee to lock up and result in a higher level of pain.\nTreatment for a Meniscus Tear\nOnce a doctor determines your meniscus is torn, there are a number of treatment options available.\nFor a mild meniscus tear, the most common treatment is R.I.C.E. \u2014 rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Avoid putting any weight on the knee, ice the area every few hours, and wrap and elevate the knee to reduce swelling. You can also take an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen to help decrease pain and swelling.\nDepending on how severe the tear is, a doctor may recommend physical therapy. The amount of time it takes to recover from a meniscus tear varies, but a typical recovery spans from one to three months.\nWill I Need Surgery?\nIf more conservative approaches don\u2019t work, you may have a severe meniscus tear that requires surgery. Your doctor will confirm there is a tear with an examination and MRI.\nIt is important to know that sometimes it is not possible to repair a torn meniscus. In some cases, the best option may be to remove the cartilage from around the knee joint to allow for proper healing.\nA torn meniscus will not heal without proper treatment, which can lead to chronic knee pain and a higher risk for osteoarthritis. If you suspect your meniscus is torn, see your doctor or make an appointment as soon as possible at UPMC Orthopedic Care.