Injury, knee meniscus: Injury to one of the two crescent-shaped cartilage pads between the two joints formed by the femur (the thigh bone) and the tibia (the shin bone). Each meniscus acts as a smooth surface for the joint to move on.
The two menisci are easily injured by the force of rotating the knee while bearing weight. A partial or total tear of a meniscus may occur when a person quickly twists or rotates the upper leg while the foot stays still (for example, when dribbling a basketball around an opponent or turning to hit a tennis ball). If the tear is tiny, the meniscus stays connected to the front and back of the knee; if the tear is large, the meniscus may be left hanging by a thread of cartilage. The seriousness of a tear depends on its location and extent.