Did I Tear My Meniscus?

You just hurt your knee and think you tore your meniscus. Before we start, lets make sure there isn’t a fracture here or a ligament injury here.

Is My Meniscus Torn?

Here is a cluster of 5 tests that determine if a meniscus tear is present. If all 5 are positive there is a 92% chance you have a meniscus tear (source). If 3-4 are positive then it is 75% chance of a meniscus tear.

  1. Do you have mechanical symptoms in your knee (catching, locking, clicking)
  2. Do you have pain with forced extension (straightening) of your knee?
  3. Pain with maximum flexion (bending) of the knee?
  4. Joint line tenderness?
  5. Positive Thessaly test

My Knee Clicks. Did I Tear My Meniscus?

If there is any type of clicking, catching, locking (mechanical symptoms) in your knee when you walk or when you bend your knee, there is a chance you have a meniscus. Remember the cluster above though as this in and of itself is not enough information to determine if there is a meniscus tear.

I Can’t Fully Straighten My Knee. Did I Tear My Meniscus?

Do you have the inability to fully straighten your knee? If you forcibly extend your knee is there extreme pain? This may be because there is a meniscus tear. As the meniscus is damaged and has some frayed ends hanging off, it can end up in the way of your femur and tibia and block your knee from being able to be straightened.

I Can’t Fully Bend My Knee. What’s wrong?

Do you have the inability to fully bend your knee? If you flex your knee is there pain? This may be because there is a meniscus tear. As the meniscus is damaged and has some frayed ends hanging off, it can end up in the way of your femur and tibia and block your knee from being able to be flexed.

I Have Joint Line Tenderness. Did I Tear My Meniscus?

The menisci sit in the joint line of the knee. The medial and lateral joint line can be found using the image below. Once you have identified where the joint line is, press a finger into the joint line. Does this cause pain? If so, it is likely because there is a meniscus tear and you just stressed the damaged tissue. Its rather easy to identify which meniscus is damaged. Medial joint line pain means the medial meniscus while lateral joint line pain means lateral meniscus damage.

This is the joint line for the knee. This is how you determine if the meniscus tear is medial or lateral

What Does A Positive Thessaly Test Mean?

The Thessaly test can be performed as instructed below. A positive test is typical of a meniscus tear but take the positive test and refer back to the cluster of tests from the first article.


Obviously there is more nuance to this and other factors that can change the predictive values but this is plenty good enough to give you a baseline of whether you should refer yourself out.

And there you have a super reliable way to assess your own meniscus injury

Now that you have identified the injured structure, you can follow the early rehab guide here