Knee pain is a common symptom that affects people of all ages and athletic abilities. Though it is often the direct result of an injury, it can present itself over time from overuse or misuse of the joint, or simply with age. It can also be a symptom of a more serious medical condition, such as a Meniscus Tear.
Whatever the cause, our knees are weight-bearing joints and they are vital for much of the activity an average person performs throughout the day. Needless to say, they take on a lot of stress and proper care is crucial to maintain an active lifestyle.
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For the full functionality of the knee, the Meniscus cartilage plays a central role, as it acts as a buffer zone between the thigh and shin bones.
A meniscus tear, although one of the most common and treatable knee injuries, can be detrimental for athletes and physical laborers, and a major setback for more sedentary individuals.
Thankfully, depending on the type and location of the injury, rest, individualized physical therapy with exercises for meniscus tears, and the potential use of a knee brace are often all that’s needed.
Comparison Table for Meniscus Braces
|Name||Picture||Price||Best Feature||Our rating||Best Price|
|McDavid 429X Knee Brace||$$||Maximum support and comfortable neoprene material||9.7/10||See Current Price|
|Shock Doctor Knee Brace||$$||Also has maximum support with pain reducing compression||9.7/10||See Current Price|
|DonJoy Performance Bionic Knee Brace||$$$||Absolute fantastic knee brace - my personal brace at home||9.6/10||See Current Price|
|Sport Spartan Hinged Unloader Knee Brace||$$||Less bulky than the other options and is easy to adjust||9.3/10||See Current Price|
|Bracoo Adjustable Knee Brace||$||Least Expensive option on the list and easy to use||9.2/10||See Current Price|
What are the Meniscus
There are two menisci in the knee joint––the lateral and medial meniscus. They are C-shaped pieces of cartilage that work together with ligaments and the overall knee structure to act as a stabilizer and as a cushion between the Tibia and the Femur.
The meniscus is also largely made up of water, which, when compressed, acts as a great shock absorber.
Though damage to the meniscus is often treatable, if you have any knee discomfort, taking immediate action can be the difference between a good prognosis and a bad one.
In the late 19th century, the meniscus was grossly misunderstood and the complete removal of the meniscus––were an all-too-common medical procedure.
Today we have a greater understanding and respect for the cartilage and its function and we take conservative measures before surgery, such as rest, physical therapy, and the use of knee braces.
Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear
The signs of a torn meniscus may vary depending on the type, severity, and location of the tear. Swelling, pain, and limited mobility are common but symptoms can range from mild discomfort to more severe sensations. Here are some signs and symptoms of a torn meniscus:
- Swelling, particularly after an injury
- Pain, often on one side of the knee
- Weakness and buckling
- Inability to fully extend the leg
- Popping or grinding sensations
- A feeling that the knee is “locked” in place
Can a Meniscus Tear Heal on it's Own?
FAQ About Meniscus Tears
Will a Knee Brace Help for a Meniscus Tear
The answer is “Yes, but maybe no…”
The knee is a weight bearing joint, therefore anytime that we are in a standing position the knee and the meniscus are loaded.
No matter how hard we try there is no brace that can completely unweight the knee while in a standing position.
So there are some types of meniscus tears that a brace will not make a difference and may not help.
If you have minimal pain while standing, but have pain with other activities such as twisting than a knee brace may be beneficial.
The knee brace will help stabilize the knee so that the forces applied to the meniscus are reduced and decrease the pain in the knee. Wearing a knee brace may make you feel more stability at work, or help you kneel with less pain. Overall, there is little risk to trying a knee brace and may be the difference between staying active and remaining sedentary.
We do want to re-iterate that a knee brace will not heal your meniscus but it may allow you to do your daily functions and activity easier and with less pain.
Can a Meniscus Tear Get Worse?
Yes, a Meniscus tear can get worse but this usually takes quite a long time and are the effects of wear and tear in the joint. Osteoarthritis is the degenerative process of all of our joints and also effects the meniscus.
Can a Meniscus Tear Be Seen on an X-Ray?
No, a meniscus tear cannot be seen on an x-ray. X-rays are great for visualizing bone defects while MRI’s are the best for looking for soft tissue problems such as meniscus tears.
One exception to this is when the X-rays showed advanced arthritis where there is bone on bone. In this instance it can be assumed that the Meniscus has been worn down.
Do you have to have Surgery for a Meniscus Tear?
No you do not have to have surgery for a Meniscus tear. In fact, unless the meniscus tear has flipped over and “catches” during certain parts of your range of motion we suggest waiting as long as you can before having surgery.
There is compelling research that shows pain after certain is slightly better 6-months after a meniscus tear but there is no difference between conservative treatment and surgery up to 2 years after a tear.
Does Ultrasound Help a Meniscus Tear?
No, Therapeutic Ultrasound will not heal a meniscus tear. It is too deep of a structure and there is some mounting evidence that Ultrasounds is not an effective form of treatment for most injuries anymore.
Can Meniscus Tears Heal With Stem Cells?
Stem cells are promising to be a potential cure for meniscus tears. As of right now, the research is still lagging on the best way to use stem cells. There are some positive early indications that stems cells may one day heal meniscus tears however we aren’t at that point yet and more research is needed.
Benefits of a Knee Brace for a Meniscus Tear
A knee brace is a great option if you have a torn meniscus, as it is a nonsurgical, noninvasive treatment and is often all that’s needed for long-term recovery. But whether it’s used as a treatment in itself or for post-treatment rehabilitation, there are many benefits of wearing a knee brace.
- Increased rotational stability –– Wearing a brace can support your joint during activities that would otherwise put unwanted stress on your meniscus. This support can speed up your recovery time and enables you to remain moderately active while you heal.
- Less hyperextension –– Hyperextension of the knee is a common cause of injury and re-injury. A brace will prevent you from extending your joint to the point of possible damage.
- Improved confidence –– A knee brace can provide a sense of confidence that is often integral to recovery, enabling you to perform rehabilitation exercises without the fear of re-injury.
- Better mobility –– After an injury, mobility is rarely taken for granted. Not only will you feel grateful for the ability to be active, but your body will also heal faster as there will be increased circulation to the affected area.
- A decrease in knee pain –– Though pain is a useful tool that alerts us when there is something wrong with our bodies, enduring it is never fun. A knee brace will minimize pain by taking the pressure off of the injury.
- Quicker return to normal function –– The recovery process includes getting back to the life you had before the injury. Wearing a knee brace will enable you to take these steps and quickly return to your normal activities.
The Best Knee Brace for a Torn Meniscus
Mcdavid 429X Meniscus Knee Brace
Summary: The McDavid 429X Knee Brace has substantial support and compression features, and is designed with comfort and flexibility in mind. It is made from breathable neoprene material, has adjustable straps for a personalized fit, and padded patella support.
- Provides maximum support enabling a range of activity
- Fits securely with minimal slippage
- Many customers report that it runs small
- Some customers recommend only wearing it for a few hours at a time
Shock Doctor Meniscus Knee Brace
Summary: The Shock Doctor knee brace is designed to assist in the prevention and recovery of a wide range of knee injuries. It features flexible materials with antimicrobial and ventilation technology, and an anatomical design. It both lifts and compresses to best support the joint and aid in recovery.
- Maximum support allows for stability throughout activity
- Solid and durable materials
- Secure fit
- Accurate sizing instructions
- Some customers have found it difficult to put on and remove
- Most customers say it is best worn for a few hours at a time
DonJoy Performance Bionic Meniscus Knee Brace
Summary: The DonJoy Performance Bionic Knee Brace provides an accurate fit and reliable support for maximum stability. Its anti-migration technology and perforated neoprene prevent slippage during workouts and provide breathability, while its reflective features ensure higher visibility for early morning or evening workouts.
- Sleek and simple design
- Easily worn under clothing or equipment
- Sturdy support
- Posterior closure makes it difficult to put on and adjust
- Velcro snags clothing
Sport Spartan Performance Meniscus Knee Brace
Summary: The Sport Spartan Performance Hinged Knee Brace is designed with versatile support and high-level performance in mind. It is stabilizing, adjustable, breathable, and lightweight.
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Offers more range of movement than other braces
- Discreet when worn under clothing
- Many customers report that it slides off with extended use
Bracoo Meniscus Knee Brace
Summary: The Bracoo Knee Support brace has fully customizable features and offers comfortable and versatile support. The brace assists in the recovery and prevention of injury or re-injury while allowing for a broad range of movement.
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Can be worn discreetly under clothing
- Great for exercise
- Good product for the low price
- Many customers report slipping and “bunching” and recommend using with a sleeve
Whether you’ve torn your meniscus or you are looking for extra support and taking a preventative measure, knee braces offer support that enhances performance and assists in long-term recovery.
A long time ago the meniscus may have been considered an expendable appendage, but today it is understood to be an immensely important component of a complex joint that is vital for optimal knee health and overall mobility. Meniscus tears are a well-understood condition that is highly treatable; there is no need to suffer or be immobilized by this common injury.
“Can Knee Braces Help You Recover From a Torn Meniscus Injury?” McDavid USA, 11 Mar. 2019, https://www.mcdavidusa.com/blogs/posts/can-knee-braces-help-you-recover-torn-meniscus-injury . Accessed 21 Sept. 2019.
D’Lima, Darryl D., Benjamin J. Fregly, Shantanu Patil, Nikolai Steklov, Clifford W. Colwell, Jr. “Knee joint forces: prediction, measurement, and significance.” Proc Inst Mech Eng H, Feb. 2012, pp. 95-102. US National Library of Medicine, doi: 10.1177/0954411911433372 . Accessed 21 Sept. 2019.
“Knee Pain.” Mayo Clinic, 7 Mar. 2019, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/knee-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20350849 .
Accessed 21 Sept. 2019.
Makris, Eleftherios A., Pasha Hadidi, & Kyriacos A. Athanasiou. “The knee meniscus: structure-funtion, pathophysiology, current repair techniques, and prospects for regeneration.” Biomaterials, Oct. 2011, pp. 7411-7431. US National Library of Medicine, doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.06.037 . Accessed 21 Sept. 2019.
Rath Ehud, & Richmond, John C. “The Menisci: basic science and advances in treatment.” Br J Sportsmed, pp. 252-257, 11 May 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1724227/pdf/v034p00252.pdf . Accessed 21 Sept. 2019.
“Torn Meniscus.” Harvard Health Publishing, May 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/torn-meniscus-a-to-z . Accessed 21 Sept. 2019.
“Torn Meniscus.” Mayo Clinic, 7 Mar. 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/torn-meniscus/symptoms-causes/syc-20354818 . Accessed 21 Sept. 2019.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.