10 Differences Between Osteoarthritis and Meniscal Tears

Knee Osteoarthritis and meniscal tear types of knee painOsteoarthritis and meniscal tears are injuries that both occur in the knees. Both knee injuries tend to become more probable to occur with age; however, there are significant differences between osteoarthritis and meniscal tear injuries. The pain associated with both injuries require different treatment approaches. A big factor that decides treatment is if the pain is a result of a particular injury or health factor. To understand these two distinct injuries that occur in the knees, here are 10 major differences between the two.

1. Pain Type

You will be able to identify the type of injury you have as a result of the pain that occurs. Pain from osteoarthritis is a dull pain that aches constantly. Meniscal tears, on the other hand, give off sharp, stabbing pain in the knee area.

2. Location

Identifying where your pain is coming from will also help to differentiate between osteoarthritis and a meniscal tear. Meniscal tears are right on the joint line with very distinct localized region of pain. Osteoarthritis has a more generalized pain affecting the whole knee joint and is difficult to pinpoint with one finger.

3. Symptoms

A torn meniscus tends to have a clicking and popping along with mechanical symptoms where the knee will catch. Osteoarthritis produces a dull throbbing aching pain yet has no mechanical symptoms.

4. Diagnostic Imaging

Meniscal tears are diagnosed with an MRI scan while osteoarthritis is detected through a plain standing knee x-ray.

5. Definition

Meniscal tears involve the meniscus which is a shock absorber between the two bones in your knee joint that functions to cushion both bones. Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of the cartilage that covers the ends of your bones within the knee joint.

6. Age of Onset

Meniscal tears tend to occur in a younger population between ages of 40 and 60. Osteoarthritis more commonly occurs in patients over age 60.

7. Signs

Meniscal tear patients tend to have knee swelling with sharp stabbing pain which is localized. Patients with osteoarthritic knees may appear to be bow legged or knock-kneed with palpable bone spurs or osteophytes at the joint line.

8. Gender Predisposition

No gender predispositions effect either types of injury.

9. Genetic Predisposition

No data proves there is genetic predisposition to meniscal tears. Osteoarthritis has a strong genetic component.

10. Treatment

Treatment for meniscal tears in a young active patient involves surgery. However, osteoarthritis treatment involves oral NSAIDS, cortisone injections, hyaluronic acid injections, bracing, and physical therapy. When all else fails joint replacement surgery becomes an option.

If you suspect either type of injury or pain, call Dr. Grossfeld’s office today at 502-212-2663 to schedule an appointment. These injuries require a physical exam and possible further testing to determine either type of knee pain.