Is A Torn Meniscus Worse Than An ACL?

June 30, 2023

Did you know that the knee is the largest joint in your body? It consists of two sub-joints, the tibiofemoral joint and the patellofemoral joint. One is at the front of your leg, and one is behind the kneecap. However, since the knee joint is so big, it is tasked with carrying your body weight. That is why most people suffer from injuries surrounding their knee area, which usually results in a torn meniscus and ACL.

A meniscus tear can make it difficult to move your leg, keeping it from rotating and causing pain. Whereas a torn ACL makes your knees go weak, collapsing under you. But what is it that causes these tears, and can you recover from them? Keep reading this blog to learn about two of the most common knee joint injuries.

What is a Meniscus Tear?

Meniscus is a small cartilage between your knee joint that works as a shock absorber. It is tough and rubbery, making it perfect for bouncing any shock off of it. However, if the knee twists suddenly or jerks in a certain manner while your feet are planted on the ground, it can damage the meniscus, causing a tear.


A meniscus tear can give way to a lot of pain and swelling. Here are some additional symptoms you can keep an eye out for:

  • Unbearable pain when squatting or kneeling
  • Stiffness
  • Excessive swelling
  • Knee locking in place, unable to move
  • Redness or tenderness near the injury site.

What is an ACL Tear?

ACL, or the anterior cruciate ligament, is a ligament that is located at the very center of your knee. It acts as a shield, preventing the knee joint from moving excessively and limiting its rotations, especially the tibia, and femur. But when this stabilization is compromised, the ACL being stretched beyond means, it can end in a tear. This can further cause swelling, a popping sound coming from your knee, and a feeling of instability.


An ACL tear can make it feel like your knee is about to collapse under your weight right then and there. When an ACL rips, there is usually a sudden pop that echoes, marking the tear. Other symptoms can include:

  • Tenderness around the knee
  • Swelling
  • Inability to carry weight or walk properly
  • Excruciating pain

Can You Tear Your Meniscus And ACL At The Same Time?

While the two injuries are separate from one another, it is completely possible to suffer from them simultaneously. If your ACL is torn or damaged, the meniscus is bound to get inflamed too. This can result in severely painful trauma to the knee, making it difficult to even stand on your feet.

What is Worse: A Torn Meniscus or an ACL?

Both a torn meniscus and ACL are painful in their own regard. Although when it comes to recovery, it takes an ACL tear longer to heal. On the other hand, a meniscus tear can return to its original shape in three months without surgery.

With surgery, however, an ACL can take six months to a year to repair itself, whereas a meniscus tear will take three to six months. It mainly depends on the severity of your condition and your health.

Torn Meniscus And ACL Treatment Options

Most people believe that surgery is necessary to recover from a knee injury. But that is simply not true. There are many non-surgical treatment plans you can try out. You can take your pick from the infamous R.I.C.E. (Rest – Ice – Compression – Elevation) method to physical therapy to anti-inflammatory medications. Although to get the best treatment, it is best to consult a medical professional for proper evaluation.

In Summary

If you suspect something is wrong with your knee joint, specifically a torn meniscus or an ACL, do not wait for it t get worse. Elevate your leg, ice it, and contact Mufaddal Gombera, MD, at (713) 794-3457 for more information. To make an in-person appointment, visit the Texas Orthopedic Hospital at 7401 Main St, Houston, TX 77030.

Dr Gombera Cover

Dr. Gombera

Dr. Gombera, earned his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and completed his orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Michigan. Expanding his expertise, he undertook a sports medicine and arthroscopy fellowship at Northwestern University in Chicago. Recognized as a Super Doctors Rising Star and honored for patient care excellence at the University of Michigan, he holds multiple certifications and licenses, solidifying his dedication to delivering exceptional medical services.



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