Football Knee Injuries and the Meniscal Tear


This article is by the physiotherapist at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic in Islington and looks at knee injuries and knee pain and the meniscus. The article covers:

  • What is the meniscus

  • Where is the meniscus

  • Signs and symptoms of a meniscal tear

football knee injuries and the meniscus Angel Sports Injury and Physiotherapy Clinic in IslingtonWhat is the meniscus?

The meniscus in the knee is a ‘C-shaped’ cartilage, thinner in the middle of the knee joint than at the sides. The rubber like cartilage that comprises the meniscus separates the femur from the tibia and acts as a shock absorber and cushions the impact on movement between the femur and the tibia as well as smoothing out the movement in the knee joint on flexion and extension.

Meniscal Injuries

The meniscus can be damaged traumatically through sporting injuries that involve rotation. Tackling in football, rugby and skiing injuries can lead to meniscal tears through rotation of the knee when it is in a weight bearing position. Meniscal tears can also occur through repetitive microtrauma and wear and tear in chronic conditions such as in osteoarthritis. In the traumatic injury there is often the involvement of other knee structures such as the collateral ligaments or the cruciate ligaments.

The meniscus is slow to heal following injury due to its poor blood supply. The lateral aspect of the disc has a good blood supply that is not present in the medial aspect of the meniscus. How the meniscus heals following injury depends on where the tear is.

Symptoms of a Meniscal Tear

How a meniscus tear presents clinically will depend on where in the meniscus the tear is and how bad the tear is.

There can be pain on straightening the leg fully and the full extension may not be possible due to discomfort. Sometimes there can be a fold of torn meniscus or a fragment of torn and detached meniscus preventing the full range of motion that can prevent walking through pain.

Like all traumatic soft tissue injuries there can be swelling in the knee joint and the swelling may not go down completely if the injury hasn’t healed.
Locking of the knee can be common and may be intermittent as the torn or detached fragment causes problems and the leg may need to be moved by hand or ‘flicked’ to unlock it. This locking can go on until the tear is treated.

It is important to have the knee assessed by a physiotherapist experienced in treating sports injuries as surgical treatment can often be required. Physiotherapy can help with the acute phase of care as well as offer help in rehabilitation of the knee pre or post surgically.

Correct management of the initial injury or ‘niggles’ can speed up recovery as well as prevent a recurrence. If you have knee pain or you have had surgery and you want help with the rehabilittion of your knee call our Islington clinic and arrange an appointment with the Angel Sports Injury and Physiotherapy Clinic's physiotherapist and get your knee back to full fitness. If you want an appointment or you want to discyss your knee with our physiotherapist please click the link below.


  Angel SPorts INjury and Physiotherapy Clinic