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More than 850,000 meniscus tear surgeries are performed each year in the United States.
*Source: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

Meniscus Tear Overview

The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that stabilizes and cushions the knee. Two tough, rubbery menisci create a cushion between the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone). Meniscus tears are among the most common knee injuries and a torn meniscus may accompany a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or other knee injury.

A sudden or acute meniscus tear may occur during sports involving direct contact.

Degenerative meniscus tears occur as a person ages and the cartilage weakens and wears thin over time. An awkward twist can be enough to cause a meniscus tear among older people.


Symptoms of a meniscus tear include:

  • A “popping” sensation
  • Knee pain, especially when rotating the knee
  • Stiffness or swelling
  • Feeling the knee is catching or locking
  • Limits in range of motion

Risk Factors

If you twist your knee, it may put you at risk of a meniscus tear. The risk factors include:

  • Playing high-contact sports, such as football or lacrosse
  • Knee cartilage deteriorates more as you age
  • Tennis or basketball moves, which involve high torque pivoting of the knee