Meniscus Tears with Dr. Scott Zehnder

Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2019 in Videos

A meniscus tear is a common knee injury that can cause pain in the joint. Dr. Scott Zehnder discusses where the meniscus is, what symptoms of a tear are and how a meniscus tear can be treated.  Dr. Zehnder is in private practice at Signature Orthopedics West County.


Hi, I'm Scott Zehnder, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. Today I'm going to talk to you about meniscus tears.

Meniscus is a "c" shaped piece of cartilage that forms a shock absorber or bumper pad between the thigh bone (the femur) and the shinbone (the tibia). Meniscus tears can be either acute or chronic. They can occur in older people and younger people.

Sometimes people will recall exactly what incident lead to their meniscus tear. Sometimes a meniscus tear can be a small tear that gradually progresses over time and is usually related to arthritis.

Meniscus tears usually are accompanied by swelling of the knee and frequently pain right on the joint line - either the outside of the knee (the lateral side) or the inside of the knee (the medial side).

In this knee model, after we remove the kneecap and patellar tendon and maximally bend this knee, we can see both menisci present.

Meniscus on knee model

The medial meniscus on the inside of the knee is this "c" shaped piece of cartilage. It serves as a bumper pad or shock absorber for the stresses experienced by the femur on top of the tibia. Tears can be of different sizes and different shapes and can sometimes involve just a portion of the meniscus or sometimes the majority of the meniscus as well.

Surgical treatment usually involves making two small incisions for an arthroscopic camera and an instrument used to remove pieces of the torn meniscus. Frequently we try to preserve as much meniscus as possible as the meniscus plays a crucial role in helping to prevent arthritis.