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Understanding Meniscus Tears: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

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Knee Pain
Knee Pain
Meniscus tears are among the most prevalent knee injuries.
The meniscus, a rubbery, C-shaped disc that cushions the knee, plays a crucial role in maintaining knee stability. A tear can significantly impact daily activities and athletic performance. At Superior Physical Therapy (Traverse City, MI), our goal is to alleviate your discomfort without medications, injections or surgeries.

What is the Meniscus?

Meniscus Tear Featured Image
The knee joint comprises two menisci: the medial meniscus on the inside of the knee and the lateral meniscus on the outside. These structures act as shock absorbers between the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia), distributing weight across the knee joint.

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Causes & Symptoms of Mensicus Tears

The following are the most common Causes and Symptomps of Meniscus Tears:
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Causes of Meniscus Tears
  • Traumatic Injury

    Often seen in athletes, a sudden twist or pivot with a planted foot can result in a tear. Sports like basketball, football, and soccer, which involve abrupt stops and turns, pose a higher risk.

  • Degenerative Changes
    With age, the meniscus weakens and wears thin, making it more susceptible to tears. Simple actions like squatting or stepping off a curb can cause a tear in older adults.
  • Lifting Heavy Objects:
    Incorrectly lifting heavy items can put undue stress on the knee, leading to a tear.
Knee Pain
Symptoms of Meniscus Tears
  • Immediate Pain
    A sharp, intense pain in the knee is often the first sign
  • Swelling
    The knee may swell either immediately after the injury or after a few hours.
  • Limited Range of Motion:
    It may become challenging to fully straighten the knee.
  • Popping Sensation
    Some individuals report feeling or hearing a pop at the time of injury.
  • Locking or Catching
    The knee might feel stuck, or it might lock up.

Diagnosing Meniscus Tears

While physical examination is the first step, imaging tests provide a clearer picture but are not necessary to determine if you have one:

  • - MRI: Offers detailed images of all the knee's structures, making it the gold standard for diagnosing meniscus tears.
  • - X-ray: While it won't show a meniscus tear, it can rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.

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Treatment Options

At Superior Physical Therapy we believe in a holistic approach to treating meniscus tears. One of the methodologies we employ is the Gray Institute's Applied Functional Science (AFS). This approach allows us to understand the root causes of injuries and design treatments that align with natural body movements.

  • Full Body Movement Assessment: The most important element of healing is identifying the cause. The cause is a movement disorder somewhere else in the body that is creating more stress in the injured area than the tissue can handle. A full body movement assessment is the most important aspect in finding the true cause. This involves assessing how mobile and stable the areas above and below the injured tissues are.  Once the dysfunctional areas are identified the physical therapist can then prescribe home treatments to fix the problem areas. 

  • Hands on Therapy with Movement: In order to improve motion in the dysfunctional areas that are causing the increased stress on the painful injured tissues the most effect way to make a change in the body is to have a physical therapist use their hands to facilitate the proper motion while you are moving at the same time. This helps improve the path the body takes in order to reduce stress and tenson on the injured area. 

  • Physical Therapy: Targeted exercises can restore strength and flexibility to the knee.  Superior Physical Therapy uses a very unique and effective type of physical therapy called Applied Functional Science.

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We've got in-person, educational Workshops on a monthly basis that cover a variety of physical problems (including knee pain) and how to heal. Find out more or register by Clicking Here.

What is Applied Functional Science (AFS)?

AFS is a movement-based therapeutic approach developed by the Gray Institute. It combines physical sciences, biological sciences, and behavioral sciences to evaluate individual movement patterns. This comprehensive approach ensures that treatments are tailored to each person's unique biomechanics and movement habits.
Benefits of AFS in Treating Meniscus Tears
  • Personalized Treatment Plans

    AFS doesn't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it tailors rehabilitation exercises to the individual's specific movement patterns and daily activities.

  • Functional Outcomes

    The goal isn't just to heal the meniscus tear but to ensure that the knee functions optimally in all activities, whether it's sports, daily chores, or recreational activities.

  • Prevention of Future Injuries

    By correcting dysfunctional movement patterns, AFS not only treats the current injury but also reduces the risk of future injuries.

  • Enhanced Recovery

    AFS exercises often lead to quicker and more complete recovery as they align with the body's natural biomechanics.

Our AFS Approach in Superior Physical Therapy
  • Our trained therapists begin with a comprehensive functional assessment to understand your unique movement patterns. Based on this assessment, we design a set of exercises that mimic your daily activities, ensuring that your knee is not only healed but also ready to take on the challenges of your everyday life.

  • Whether you're an athlete looking to return to your sport or someone hoping to play with their kids without pain, our AFS-based approach can pave the way for a faster, more effective recovery.

Contact Us To learn more about how Applied Functional Science can aid in your recovery from a meniscus tear, reach out to our expert team.


In the last 15 years, Dr. Gorecki has been helping patients find lasting pain relief and address pressure and persistent trauma. He coined this unique technique, “The Superior Method.” It is a tailored approach to pain and relief that uses no prescriptions or surgery.


Find out more about the Superior Method and how it can help relieve your knee pain. Book a free consultation by calling 231.944.6541 or sending an email to info@thesuperiortherapy.com

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Superior Physical Therapy (West) 
3899 West Front St., 
Traverse City, MI 49684
Superior Physical Therapy & Spine Center (Central) 
722 Munson Ave, Traverse City, MI 49686
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