The meniscus is a cartilage fragment that creates cushioning between the shinbone (tibia) and thighbone (femur). Each knee joint comprises two menisci.

The menisci may become torn or damaged during activities that strain or rotate the knee joint. A meniscus tear may occur due to a sudden pivot during a basketball game or taking a hard tackle while playing football. However, meniscus tears are not restricted to athletes.

Getting up too quickly from a squatting position can also cause a meniscal tear. Over 500,000 meniscal tears take place in the US annually, reports the Boston Children’s Hospital.

Orthopedic Institute of the West, led by board certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brandon Gough provides treatments for the knee, shoulder and hips to patients in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona, and surrounding communities.

The treatment options can range from at-home therapies to outpatient surgery, depending on the severity of the injury. Performing exercises that can strengthen the leg muscles and using appropriate techniques during sports or contact activities can help prevent this injury.



Deep squatting, a sudden turn or pivot, or lifting heavy objects can cause a meniscus tear. Therefore, many athletes are at a higher risk of developing a meniscus tear.

Some sports that create a higher risk for the development of meniscus tears are:

  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Tennis
  • Soccer

Researchers indicate that meniscus tears are increasingly occurring in children due to the fact that they are engaging in organized sports at an earlier age.

Furthermore, the likelihood of a child experiencing a meniscus tear increases when focusing on only one sport. This also holds true for teenagers participating in competitive sports.

Aging causes the meniscus to weaken. These tears occur more commonly in individuals above the age of 30 years. Activities such as stepping and squatting can cause an injury in a person with weak menisci.

People with osteoarthritis are at a higher risk of sustaining a knee injury or developing meniscus tears. Osteoarthritis refers to a commonly occurring joint disorder that causes pain and stiffness in the joints brought on by aging, and wear and tear.

Meniscus tears in older people are likely associated with degeneration. Aging causes the knee cartilage to become thinner and weaker, and consequently, more prone to tears.



The patient may hear a popping sound around the knee joint when a meniscus tear occurs. Later on, they may experience the following:

  • pain, specifically when the region is touched
  • inflammation
  • difficulty in moving the knee or inability to move the knee in a full range of motion
  • the sensation of the knee catching or locking
  • the feeling that the knee is unable to offer support

The patient may experience a popping or slipping sensation as well. This typically indicates that a cartilage fragment has become loose and is obstructing the knee joint.

The patient should consult their doctor if these symptoms persist for over a few days or occur after a knee injury. It is important to call the doctor promptly if the knee locks and the patient is unable to bend their knee after straightening it.

Board certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brandon Gough receives patients from Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona, and nearby areas for knee, hip, and shoulder treatments.

For more information about hip and knee procedures and treatments by Arizona Board certified orthopedic surgeon, Brandon Gough, M.D., please click here or call us at 602-359-3088. Taking new patients in and around Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona cities.