How is a meniscus injury diagnosed?

The orthopaedic surgeon will first take a history of the injury to help determine if the signs and symptoms might suggest meniscal damage.

Next the doctor will evaluate the knee for swelling and tenderness in a physical examination. The knee will be tender when pressed on the injured side where the tibia and femur meet. The McMurray's maneuver is a test in which the doctor applies pressure and moves the knee from straight to bent to straight again to see what positions cause pain or catching (indications of a meniscal tear).

The doctor may use imaging to assess the amount of damage. X-rays can show any fractures or arthritic conditions in the knee. A narrow joint space or bone changes indicate bone-on-bone rubbing and arthritis. If the diagnosis is still not clear, an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Image) may be ordered to reveal damage to ligamaments and menisci. This exam is 70 - 95% accurate in revealing meniscal tears, and can also show any ligament damage.

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