Risk of playing sports with a meniscus tear

Meniscus tears are among the most common reasons for orthopaedic surgery. If you have a meniscus tear, do you need surgery right away? Can you make the tear or your knee worse? In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I answer those questions about a young athlete with a meniscus tear in his knee.

Mayra in Riverdale, CA asks:
What can happen if a young athlete has a torn meniscus and needs surgery, but he continues to play sports before having surgery?

The meniscus is the shock-absorber cartilage in the knee. Frequently active people will have pain, catching and locking of the knee that limits their ability to exercise or play sports. Often they choose to undergo surgery to overcome those symptoms.IMG10

In this video, I talk about the surgical options for meniscus tear. I also discuss whether an athlete or active person needs surgery right away or if he can wait. We also discuss whether you could avoid surgery altogether.

Have you suffered a torn meniscus? Did you have surgery right away, or did you wait? Please share your experience below!

Also read:
Ask Dr. Geier – Do you need surgery for a meniscus tear?
Ask Dr. Geier – Failure of meniscus repairs

Please remember, while I appreciate your questions, I cannot and will not offer specific medical advice by email, online, on my show, or in the comments at the end of these posts. My responses are meant to provide general medical information and education. Please consult your physician or health care provider for your specific medical concerns.

7 Responses to Risk of playing sports with a meniscus tear

  1. I have had a meniscus tear I am 64 very active love the gym but was in so much pain I could not even walk . I had an MRI and my Doctor said he would try steroid injection first did not work , had another xray he suggested a brace for seven days I did this and fingers crossed I have full relief and i am back at the gym walkinf=g swiming etc . I am sure it will come back but for now I am happy.

  2. Hello Dr. Grier, my daughter does cheer and she was tumbling yesterday and landed funny and hurt her knee. She has pain on the side of her knee and the back of the knee. She can’t straighten her leg. I’m just wondering what this might be and if I should call her doctor or just ice it and have her take Motrin. She is currently wearing a knee brace and lumping. Thank you! Tracy

    • If a young athlete cannot fully extend or flex the knee after a traumatic event, it is definitely worth getting it checked out.

  3. Reading your guides about surgeries invoking tendons in the knee and ankle is so much what I am continuously enduring in my right knee and ankle.
    I completely understand your post are for information but I sure wish my Orthropedic doctors would here me more. I have had the knee surgery 2015 and right ankle surgery 2014 and 2015 and now even after physical therapy and wearing braces I feel like I am back at level one this is some intense pain and it is real pain. I am glad I came across your posts because maybe there is help for me in the near future. I don’t have to get to 100% but I would love to be free of constant pain.
    Thank you much

  4. I fell on some ice two days before Christmas 2016, I had a meniscus tear 6years ago and had surgery. I’am in pt, however i have this horrible pain on the inside of my knee and cannot straighten my leg without a bad pain shooting to the back of my knee. My orthopedic dr says to continued PT.This is very bothersome at m while I try to fall asleep at night,I find the pain has been waking me up and so I sit up till the irritation goes away. Could this be a sign of another tear?

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david-headshot I am an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Charleston, South Carolina.

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