What are menisci?

Your menisci are crescent shaped discs of shock-absorbing cartilage in your knee joint. They lie in between your thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia).

You have two menisci in each knee joint, your medial meniscus lies on the inner aspect and the lateral meniscus lies on the outer aspect of your knee joint.

Their purpose is to act as shock absorbers and reduce friction of your knee joint. The menisci in addition to your ligaments also play an important role in the stability of your knee.

Meniscal tears are a common injury.


The menisci can become torn because of wear and tear and age or following an injury to your knee.

Tears of your menisci can be associated with other injuries such as your anterior cruciate ligament.


  • Pain – levels of pain vary between individuals and may come and go
  • Swelling – usually occurs a few hours after injury
  • Clicking, catching or locking symptoms
  • Knee instability – symptoms of your knee giving way
  • Immobility – inability to move your knee as you previously would. Especially with deep squatting or twisting of your knee


Although some small tears may heal with rest and physiotherapy, most acute tears will need surgery. Tears associated with degeneration usually do not require surgery unless they are associated with mechanical symptoms (Please see video on meniscal tears).