My Knee Popped – Help!

Any type of physical activity can place your joints and bones at risk of injury, and for athletes that risk is even greater. Imagine hearing and feeling your knee pop during an activity. What does it mean and what should you do?

What Happened?

Often, hearing and feeling that tell-tale pop means that you’ve torn your meniscus. The meniscus is a c-shaped piece of cartilage in your knee, and its purpose is to cushion where your thigh bone, shin bone and knee cap meet. Each knee has two cartilage pieces. A knee surgeon sees meniscus injuries on a routine basis, and can get you on the road to recovery if this happens to you.


When you’ve torn your meniscus, your knee may swell increasingly as time progresses, and you’ll probably feel pain. Another sign of a torn meniscus is the feeling that your knee has locked up after it has straightened or bent in certain positions. Alternately, your knee could feel unstable.


Depending on the severity of the tear, treatment of a torn meniscus may vary. Conservative options may be simply to rest the knee and apply ice to reduce the internal swelling. Pain management usually accompanies this course of action. More advanced cases may lead your knee surgeon to schedule you for a meniscus repair procedure, when the doctor makes a small incision to enter your knee and inserts tiny cameras and instruments through this incision to fix the tear. This is known as arthroscopic surgery, and is actually not terribly invasive.


After arthroscopic knee surgery, your knee will be immobilized in a brace for up to a few weeks. This allows the meniscus repair to heal, and you to recover from your surgery. After that, your knee surgeon will schedule you for a program of physical therapy or rehabilitation. You’ll rebuild strength in the knee and gain trust in its stability. The rehab is a critically important part of your recovery, as you’ll get much more functionality back if you’re committed to your therapy program. You can reasonably expect to be back to normal around six months after surgery.

A torn meniscus is a problem, but should not be one that will sideline you for an extended period of time. Contact a knee surgeon if you believe you’ve torn your meniscus so that you can begin your recovery process right away.

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