Knee pain: Is it a torn meniscus?


Knee pain can result from a variety of causes, one of which is damage to the meniscus, the cartilage that acts as a cushion between the femur and tibia.

“Meniscus injuries can present in various ways,” said Dr. Harpreet Basran, a fellowship-trained orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon at Centegra Physician Care-McHenry County Orthopedics. “There can be the acute, traumatic way, which is what we see in many sports injuries.”

Basran knows that firsthand having served as assistant team physician for the Chicago Blackhawks.

“Athletes will cut, or pivot, and you’ll watch the knee give out, and the meniscus can get torn,” Basran said.

Meniscus injuries also can be more gradual, Basran said. Even normal activities can cause damage to the knee over time and eventually tear the meniscus.

“The most common question I get is whether we’re going to repair or trim the meniscus out,” Basran said. “A lot of factors go into that – the size of the meniscus, its blood supply, how much room is left inside the joint. The most important part for us is to make sure that we leave as much meniscus behind as possible, and that it’s stable and functional for the future.”

Rehabilitation and therapy after treating the meniscus depends on what kind of surgery the patient underwent.

“Trimming the meniscus, called a meniscectomy, tends to be a fairly quick recovery,” Basran said. “You can apply pressure right away, and the rehabilitation and physical therapy typically takes about four to six weeks for a full recovery, even in sports.”

The rehabilitation and therapy after meniscus repair is different than trimming the meniscus, however.

“If the tear is large enough for us to stitch back in place, you’ll begin with a short time of mobilization in a brace. You’ll still begin therapy during that phase, but full recovery can take up to four months for a full return back to sports,” Basran said.

Make an appointment with Basran by calling 815-356-5200 or learn more at

Centegra Health System : 420 N. Route 31, Crystal Lake, IL 60012 : 815.338.6600 :

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