The meniscus is a crescent-shaped piece of cartilage in your knee. It helps cushion the friction between your femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) and it also helps your leg distribute weight as you walk.

A meniscus tear is one of the most common knee injuries. When people talk about torn cartilage in the knee, they are usually talking about a torn meniscus. This injury can happen when weight is placed on the leg while pivoting, which often occurs during sports such as soccer and football. When a meniscus tear takes place, typically the patient feels immediate pain. Swelling and stiffness soon develops due to the inflammation of the injured ligament.

Whether a tear can heal on its own depends on the size of the tear and its location along the meniscus. Typically if it occurs on the outside edge of the meniscus, which has rich-blood supply, it can heal on its own with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). Tears on the inside area of the meniscus usually must be surgically repaired. If you experience knee pain, consult your physician to diagnose the issue and determine the best treatment.