The meniscus is the “c”-shaped shock absorber located between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) on either side of each knee. Injuries of the meniscus are very common from squatting or twisting motions. That is one reason these injuries are common in sports, but non-athletes can suffer them as well.
Doctors can examine you to try to determine if you tore a meniscus. Often your description of the injury alone can help. Very localized pain on the medial (inside) or lateral (outside) of your knee after a twisting injury at least raises suspicion of a meniscus tear.
The doctor can perform some physical exam tests as well. He might feel along the joint line trying to find specific areas that hurt. Often the patient will have pain along the inside of the knee toward the back, and the doctor can feel that tenderness. He might bend your knee and twist it to try to recreate the pain. The doctor might also perform x-rays and order an MRI.
In this video, I discuss the mechanism of injury of a meniscus tear, as well as history, physical exam and use of radiology tests like x-rays and MRIs to make the diagnosis.