Knee Locking Up? Meniscus Tear May be the Cause

Like many knee injuries, a meniscus tear can be extremely painful and debilitating. Unfortunately, a tear of the medial or lateral meniscus is a very common problem. One of the primary indicators of a meniscus tear is the knee locking up.

The meniscus, or “cartilage”, is a structure that exists on each side of the knee and can be torn. The meniscus fits in between the bones and three primary functions:

  1. Lubrication
  2. Padding
  3. Stability

Symptoms of A Meniscus Tear in the Knee:

The most common symptoms of a meniscus tear are severe knee pain, swelling and the sensation of the knee locking up.

Learn more about the normal medial meniscus and normal lateral meniscus in the videos below

Normal Medial Meniscus
Normal Lateral Meniscus

Diagnosing & Treating a Meniscus Tear in the Knee:

Meniscus Tear beforeMedial Meniscus Tear Before Correction
Meniscus Tear afterMedical Meniscus Tear Corrected
Arthroscopic Meniscus Correction Surgery
Arthroscopic Meniscus Correction Surgery

A meniscus tear is first diagnosed by a doctor examining the knee and looks for swelling, specific tenderness and other tests. An MRI is frequently done to attempt to confirm the diagnosis of the doctor. MRI is 75-90% accurate in trying to determine what is wrong in the knee. It is not 100% accurate.

The treatment for a meniscus tear causing problems such as the knee locking up, pain and swelling is arthroscopic surgery. Every effort is made to save as much of the meniscus as possible. In acute, fresh tears the meniscus is frequently repaired with sutures placed arthroscopically. In longstanding tears or chronic tears some or most of the meniscus is removed, trying to save as much the meniscus as possible.

If a repair is performed, the patient will have to stay off the leg on crutches for three weeks. If a trimming of some type is performed, the patient can bear full weight as soon as possible.

Treating Knee Lock Up with Arthroscopic Surgery

A meniscus tear is treated with arthroscopic surgery. This entails a short general anesthetic, three very tiny incisions on the knee are made and the patient goes home from outpatient surgery the same day. Rehabilitation can be started immediately.

See the photographs on the right of a meniscus tear and a meniscus that has been surgically corrected and removed and see the video of actual arthroscopic meniscus surgery on the right.

If your knee is locking up, contact Dr. Likover. A knee surgeon in Houston, he can diagnose the problem and provide the treatment you need.