Meniscus Tear Symptoms: Swelling

When it comes to the meniscus tear symptoms, swelling is the cause of many of them. Loss of motion, pain, loss of strength...swelling plays a part in each of these. As swelling subsides, so do the other symptoms. What exactly is swelling? What causes it? Read on to find out more about this torn meniscus symptom.

Where Does it Come From?

Swelling generally comes from the initial injury. When the meniscus is torn, it bleeds into the joint. This accumulation of fluid causes an intial swelling of the knee. The blood supply to the meniscus is not very good, or ample, so that means that swelling after a meniscus tear is slow to occur...generally after 12-24 hours. This is significant when it comes to diagnosis. So, pay attention to when your knee swells, and how quickly it happens.

Along with the bleeding after injury, swelling also comes from the irritation of the joint lining. The joint capsule produces synovial fluid normally, and when it is irritated, it produces more. This contributes to the joint effusion in the knee.

Part of the healing process is the body bringing fluid into the injured area in order to A) remove dead cells and B) begin getting the area ready to heal. This increase in fluid is the third factor in swelling following a meniscus tear.

What Does Swelling Do?

Swelling contributes to all of the other meniscus tear symptoms. Swelling causes increased pressure in the joint, and this causes pain and loss of range of motion. Swelling inhibits the muscles ability to contract, and this leads to muscle weakness.

How Long Does it Last?

Swelling after a meniscus tear will usually last for several weeks. It will diminish significantly after the first 10-14 days, as the initial inflammation process subsides, but it will continue to be a problem for several weeks. This becomes a major goal of meniscus tear treatment...removing the swelling. Once the swelling is under control, everything else can begin to return to normal.


Swelling often causes many of the meniscus tear symptoms in the knee. The control and treatment of swelling is the most important part of meniscus tear treatment, much like many sports injuries.

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