Meniscus is another word for the cartilage in the knee that acts as a shock absorber. You have two of them medial and lateral or inner and outer.  They are both C-shaped structures that are made of fibrocartilage.

The meniscus is located between the femur and the tibia or thigh and leg bone. It actually serves many functions in the knee other than shock absorber. It acts as a stabilizer preventing the lower leg from sliding forward on the femur.  It also helps to push joint fluid into the surface of the joint to help the cartilage cells survive.  The joint has a small coefficient of friction which is the same thing as saying it glides 10 times better than 2 pieces of ice sliding on one another. The meniscus allows the joint fluid to act as a lubricant for the joint and lets the femur glide and roll on the tibia.

It has a blood supply the only reaches the outer third. This will come in handy when we talk about tears and repairing them or trimming them. Listen up CrossFitters, I will let you in on a secret. When we are young it takes a lot of work or a bad injury to tear a meniscus… a bad twist in a soccer game, landing in a squat after a big jump. For people with more experience in life, it takes a lot less to tear them. Some will tear with a sharp twist while maneuvering around an airplane, getting up from playing with the kids, coming down from a rock hiking, PISTOLS. So you can see there is a clear difference between the amount of energy that goes in to the two types of tears. WHY US, older people are saying?

As we age our tissues dehydrate and lose some of their natural elasticity and hydration. Tissues become more brittle and can rip easier than when we were young (sounds like A Killers song). So we see tear patterns that are different and provide the appropriate treatment for each pattern. The treatment depends on location of tear, size of tear, and blood supply to tear. Blood carries oxygen and healing factors that allow tissues to heal. Without it there will be no healing.

People will classically notice swelling in their knee with pain along the inner or outer aspect of their knee. Also people often say it hurts in the back of their knee and confuse it for a hamstring injury. Clicking, buckling, or locking are severe symptoms. Most often it is a pain that is a stabbing knife-like pain accentuated by twisting, pivoting or squatting. I often describe it as a hangnail being pulled on. The tear can get bigger the more it gets pulled on.  Front squats, back squats, or pistols can elicit some of these symptoms. Be careful when you are in a deep squat not to rotate or twist as this may pinch the meniscus between the bones and cause a tear

So now on to treatment, basically it is to sew it together or trim the piece that is torn. Repair requires longer recovery (ask some of our CrossFit friends) than trimming. Repair is a 4 month process and trim is a 4-6 week process to get back to feeling good again. When I do arthroscopy on the knee the decision is often made at the time of surgery based on the previous criteria mentioned. Location, size, blood supply, and tear pattern. I only want to take out the bad tissue or piece that is torn and not working anyway. Again like a hangnail I trim it at the base to prevent it from getting bigger and more painful. People often want to know if they can live with a torn cartilage. I unfortunately have seen some cartilage tears do some damage to otherwise healthy appearing knees when it is moving around in the knee causing pain.

Here are some real shots of meniscal tears before and after.


  1. Thank you for the information!
    I got mild lateral meniscus tear in August; cortisone shot in December. Pain is gone but whenever I do a workout that involves squatting (parallel), knee swells but no pain. It swells 1.5 compare to the healthy knee. Will swelling ever go away? What does swelling mean? Will strengthening exercises help? Should I only squat within a range? Will I ever be able to squat parallel or below parallel? Thanks again.

    • All good questions and you certainly want to ask your doctor these questions. I have had people who have had swelling that disaapears after a while. Regarding your specific knee no one knows the answer to those questions. You always want to perform pain free range of motion exercises as a rule of thumb. Take care.

  2. Hi there,
    I am 59 years old and I have a medial meniscus tear and mild osteoarthritis in my right knee. The MRI and x-Ray is all made.

    I have been walking with this torn meniscus for about one and half year. It is a medial horizontal tear and some meniscal cysts . As a result when I walk I have pain in my knee cap or in the back of my knee. Have been to physiotherapy and that has not helped.

    I have been seeing two specialists. One specialist says that the torn meniscus 1/3 or 1/4 of meniscus
    should be removed then i can walk better and easier. The other says if you remove it you will get bone against bone friction and advanced arthritis in near future and an artificial knee. Now I am confused and don’t know what is wise to do. Please give me an advise.

    I wonder if the meniscus removed is I would feel lesser pain in my knee and can walk better?

    • This is a common scenario that I deal with everyday. Unfortunately I can’t give you specific advice as it relates to your specific case because you are not my patient and I haven’t examined you. Generally speaking both things could happen but it takes reviewing your studies and examining you to give you an educated assessment.

  3. Hi! I have not seen a Dr, yet. A week ago I ran for a fly ball and felt a pain in my knee. When I stepped down I swear my knee buckled inwards, and I continued to have pain. I taped up the knee, iced, and went into game #2. I ran to first, hit the base with the bum leg (knee) and it went out from underneath me. I was down and in pain! I agreed to be done for the night. I felt that same buckling with pain for a couple days after, but if I walked straight, there was no buckling or pain. Only if I stepped funny or put weight on it wrong. It was swollen for sure, but nothing hurt to the touch. One week later I have been icing, elevating, trying to take it easier, and wearing a brace. I have pain when I twist wrong, or when trying to fully bend the knee or straighten it. Otherwise it is just a manageable ache. I also notice that behind my knee it feels like there is a tugging or a popping. Sometimes pain follows, other times it just feels odd.

    • You need to see someone, cartilage or ligament injuries can cause buckling

  4. I have been diagnosed with a bucket handle tear one week ago was told extreme pain would last approximately 3 days its been a week is this normal

    • Bucket handle tears can be painful. You should see an orthopedic surgeon.

  5. I was diagnosed with a meniscal tear. Have been exercising and after an aerobics class, started to hear and feel popping when I step down on my leg. Will that go away? Can I do step aerobics and/or kangoo jump classes? I am 65 years old and about 35 pounds overweight, in the process of losing.

    • can’t answer about you specifically, but meniscal tears can cause popping from the meniscus moving around. You should make an appt to be seen because sometimes the meniscus can move around and get stuck causing more pain or damage.

  6. Hello,

    Does pain in the inside of the knee right above the shin bone indicate a knee injury associated with a meniscus type injury? I can’t kneel on my left knee without feeling a stabbing pain either. When twisting with weight distributed on only on my left leg I can feel a grinding/”catching” sensation on the outside of my knee. There also seems to be a little “popping” as well. There appears to be no to minimal swelling as well. I can’t find much on the Internet opinion based. Hopefully you could offer a little insight before scheduling an appointment.

    Thank you

    • If you read the post it sounds like a possibility, although no one can tell you for sure over the internet. You should make an appointment

  7. A few days ago I was sick of hearing kids screaming in the basement so I stomped 1 time really hard on the floor. Popping from my knee happened and omg the pain. Now the lower inside of my knee is swollen. If I twist or jolt my knee it’s horrible pain. When I sit down and my knee bends it hurts also. I am currently wearing a brace because I have to make it through this weekend of work before I can go to a Dr if needed. Walking doesn’t really hurt it to bad. If I straighten it for to long it hurts really bad. Do you think it will heal on its own? The swelling is now in the upper part of my leg as well.

    • I don’t know what you have and can’t comment about healing. I am happy to see you in the office if you are around

  8. Dr.,

    I am a 40 yr old male and was jumping into the swimming pool. I felt a sharp pain on the outside of my knee and didn’t hear or feel a pop sound. It swelled up fairly well but has gone down. I can walk just fine,it occasionally it will buckle just a bit and the pain is on the outside of the knee and a bit to the back of the knee. Does this sound more like a sprain or more of a possible tear in the meniscus? Thank you sir.

    • Would need to examine you to be sure. Unable to tell without an exam. Ligaments and meniscus can cause instability and pain.

  9. Hello, my story is such that I bear a little bit of weight and I went climbing up the chunky and long steps up the waterfall. I used right leg to climb because it was easier especially after I was knackered. Nothing happened there. A week after I went for a long walk and as i was going up the little pavement lateral side of my right leg clicked painfully. That was yesterday. I can walk normally but can’t step up with this leg or a painful click will happen again. Again, I’m a student and if I can do something myself before I pay for doctor which is expensive in Ireland I’d love to try. What would your first idea of diagnosis be?Thank you.

    • If someone told me this I would think meniscal tear, but you should be seen if your knee is not normal and is clicking

  10. few questions

    I have osgoods. My left knee doesnt resemble the right one anymore (left leg had repair) how do i know if the surgeon did a patella repair/re anchor. He never consulted about doing a patella repair with me that i can remember, what should i look for in the records when i get them specifically for knowing if he did anything but the acl.

    second question

    ive done 2 rounds of physical therapy now from 2 different places. i feel as though i may have a bucket tear, my knee pops constantly through range of motion bearing weight like from doing a lunge or stepping up onto objects. there is a large instability in the knee when bearing weight as well. could i have a bucket tear? could the instability be from him doing the patella?

    • The operative report of a repair would comment on reattaching the tendon with drill holes or suture anchors. You need a good physical exam to determine if there is laxity in your leg.

  11. I was climbing up on the kitchen counter to move stuff around in the cabinet over the fridge. I thought I had hyperextended my knee. I immediate felt pain in my knee, felt some crackle like it was in my ears. To my surprise I sat my foot down and could stand with leg relatively straight. About 15 minutes after the injury, i felt swelling in the knee area but it did not look very swollen but the pain was intense when I tried to step with it first going up stairs and coming down stairs. I can not put my weight upon my knee if I try to get down on my knees to weed the flower bed. This was several weeks back and since then I go thru spells of it swelling for no aparent reason. This last time my knee looked like I had a knee trying to push out from the inner side of it. Does this sound like this type of injury? I am without insurance and would like to know what to do. I did go to the ER and they put a brace on it even tho I told them I can not straighten it out completely and when forced straight it feels like the back of my knee area is being ripped viciously.

    • I would suggest paying to see an orthopedic doctor, the bill at the ER is probably more than going to see the orthopedic doctor. If a patient told me this story I would think about a meniscus tear.

  12. I fell at work 5 years ago (age38) down some steps landed on my knee, ended up having a mcl sprain and did PT. I was very fit at the time. I ended up having surgery a little over a year after the accident to clean up all the torn cartridge. I have had problems on and off with my knee since, not being able to be as physical as I used to be without pain. Now yesterday I was standing and talking, I shifted my weight, felt a pop and a knife like sensation in my knee. (Medial) I now have swelling and stiffness in my knee, could I have torn my meniscus?

    • possibilities of something like this include repeat tear or arthritic area causing problems for definitive answer see your surgeon

  13. Hi, 2 days ago I was stretching my calf because it was stiff and sore for about a week. It didn’t help, so I was limping around, and went shopping anyay., as I was walking out of the store, I felt the INSIDE in the back of my knee something snapped, (or popped), I couldn’t walk., still can’t., I’m using a walker. what could It be? and will It heal on It’s own? how long will It take? thank you.

    • All good questions, I can’t make a diagnosis over the internet. If you are in the Boston area I am happy to see you.

  14. Dr,
    i’m 21 yo, i injured my knee while playing dodgeball, and during a twist my knee automatically locked. the next day , the angle was around 50 degree. for 2 weeks i felt pain and couldnt walk. 2-3rd week no more pain and the angle was better aorund 85 degree. and now 4th week knee is around 110 degree and pain completly gone and better range of motion and i can walk on it and bear weight. My docotr suggested surgery right away because pieces of my medial menuscus had been torn off but do you think im getting better or should i do surgery?? i would love to hear your opinion thank you

    • Of you have a bucket handle tear of the meniscus that is a surgical indication. That piece will not heal and get stuck in the joint

      • Dr. I fell about three weeks ago and my knee is still hurting. I went to the ortho dr and now after he start twisting and turning my leg it hurts worse then before. Not only that but the anti-inflammatory pain pills and muscle relaxers are not helping. It feels like someone has a knife in the side of my knee and the pain won’t let up!!! I haven’t slept in weeks!!!

    • If you have a bucket handle tear that is a surgical indication. That piece can get stuck in the joint.

  15. Hi, i am 38 and lately my knee has been hurting. Im not sure what i did, but it feels unstable and when i went to stomp the snow off my feet it hurt so bad on the inner side of my knee right in the middle. Now everytime i even slightly walk with a bounce in my step it hurts really bad. I thought it might be my meniscus but there is no information that I have found that talks about it hurting really bad when stomping foot as being a symptom. If I try to hyperextend my leg it hurts really bad as well. Have you heard of this before?

    • Mindy, a meniscus tear often hurts when people twist, sleep or hyperextended their knees. Go get checked.

  16. Not sure this will get to you before I have surgery, I am scheduled for meniscus surgery tomorrow and am nervous. I am doubting the need for it after reading the internet, of course. I developed a bakers cyst about 3-4 months ago and then had an MRI that said I have medial and lateral tears. The lateral is small but the medial is a radial tear per radiologist but ortho said he doesn’t see it as a radial tear. He told me to go back to training and see how it feels and call if I wanted surgery. He was informative about the risks and possible arthritis later on, as well as some show no improvement. My issue is I went back to working out and everytime I try to run, I have pain, any time I do box jumps or double unders the swelling and aching is bad afterwards. I however can do a lot but have pain after and with rest for about 24 hrs all the pain subsides. I have frequent intermittent catching of the knee as well. I need opinions, should I go through with this? I am tired of being limited and I know that I will not “rest” if it is not repaired because I am an exercise addict. I wasn’t told to do PT but most likely because I do these exercises to strengthen on a regular basis. I don’t have the typical walking issues but I do have swelling, stiffness, meniscal cyst and catching intermittently which is uncomfortable. I want to continue crossfit in the future. Does surgery sound logical at this point?

    • I hope it helps it sounds reasonable yes

  17. Please help!!! I just had ACL surgery this past Monday.6 days ago…2 days ago I dediced to get out of my house..I tried getting back into my house my scooting on my bottom and I felt my left side of knee pop horrible horrible sharp stabbing pain…did I tear it again?

    • You need to talk to your surgeon about this question. Not something that can be commented on over the internet.

  18. Dr.
    I am 45 years old with a torn meniscus. MRI report shows apical free margin blunting/tearing in the medial meniscus body, extending into the junction with the posterior horn.

    Dr. thinks the initial tear came from running a marathon and then I finished it off with double unders. Also had a sprained MCL and ACL which seem to have healed.

    Three weeks later I’ve had great improvement and am able to walk with no issues and go up and down stairs. No locking or giving out. We are waiting on surgery to see if it heals. Dr. says he doesn’t see this injury often with someone my age so while he thinks healing is possible, he doesn’t have much to refer to.

    In your experience, is this something that can heal without surgery? He is hesitant to do anything but trim it if we decide I need surgery due to my age and possible issues healing. I love that he is conservative but I am concerned I may never get back to working out at full strength.

    • The decision to repair sometimes is a surgical decision at the time of arthroscopy. It depends on blood supply, size of tear, etc. The MRI can show sometimes where the tear is and the healing potential of the tear if it has a blood supply.

  19. Hello Dr.
    So I was messing around with my feet planted, I rotated backward then forward quickly and I heard a pop. I got it checked and the doc preformed the physical tests, said it was popiletues injury. Three weeks later I get new symptoms so I go back and he now says this is patellar issues, so he gives me a brace and some exercises. Now I know that the physical tests are not the best indicator of these injuries, should I go back and demand an MRI?

    • It’s tough for me to go against another doctor’s diagnosis over the internet. You don’t have to demand. If things aren’t better then I would let that doctor know that you are concerned as things have not improved.

  20. Hello dr
    I was going down hill fast with a penny board and as soon as i felt i was about to fall so i got off the penny board and stiff legged to stop myself from faceplanting, after this it started to hurt, but pain went away for like about 2 mins. After i went back into my room my knee was really swollen. The next day it was swollen and it was hard to walk on it. But aftet this the swelling startrd to go a bit down until like 5 days when the swelling went down dramatically. There is still a little bit of water on top and by the sides of the patella but it is rarely visible. My lateral knee side hurts when i deep squat all the way down, but it doesnt hurt if i squat halfway. I can walk without pain, i can also twist my knee and feel no pain. The knee kind of feels sore, can this be a bruised or torn meniscus? Or possibly a sprained lcl? There is a spot right above the joint line that hurts if i press it hard, it is kind of on top of yhe fibula head

    • I would get seen it may be a tear of the meniscus, or even a small fracture

  21. I was told I had a torn meniscus after coming in with what looked like a point coming out from the right side of my right knee after doing the Bar Method. They told me it was a cyst that had formed during the class from excess bending at the knee. Now I have a lump on that same area the size of 1/2 a golf ball. I can press on it so it’s not solid, yet firm, but is causing a lot of discomfort. I don’t know if it’s fluid or something more serious although it’s soft so that’s a little more comforting.

    Any idea what it could be and how to relieve the pain and reduce the lump? Is this common with a torn meniscus. I’m active and 60.

    • Hi it sounds like a meniscal cyst which can happen with a meniscal tear. The lateral side is more common than the medial or inner side. An Mri would confirm that. Happy to see you if you are in the area

  22. I have elasticity in my knees, while playing baseball; I got a ball whipped at the outside of my left knee. While my leg was fully extended. It swelled up and bruised pretty nasty. I was told back when I found out about my elasticity not to immobilize the knee. I’ve been wearing my hinged knee brace on an off for a couple weeks now. But I keep getting sharp stabbing pains on the inside of my leg where my knee is and in the back of my knee. What could be going wrong? I’m 26 and have had elasticity since I was 15 (that’s when I was diagnosed) I’ve never had surgery for it. What could be wrong? Please help!! 🙁

    • this sounds like one that you need to see someone about to check your ligaments and meniscus to make sure you are ok

  23. I am a 14 year old and I was playing baseball and I had to suddenly stop and it caused a lot pain. I went to the doctor and they did an xray. Nothing was broken, which I figured and two weeks later it hasn’t inproved and I’ve been researching and from my symptoms I could have a torn meniscus and I was wondering if that could happen from a sudden stop?

    • yes it could, if you are not better, I would recommend that you tell your parents to take you back to get checked out again.

  24. Hello,

    I recently had a knee injury at Crossfit while doing squats during the strength portion of the class. It was almost insignificant at the time. I then completed and actually won the WOD that day. Later that afternoon while attempting to start a run I had serious knee pain and could not do any more activities. The next day I saw an ortho surgeon and he stated I had torn a meniscus and to give it a few days before getting back to exercise. He said if after one week I still had pain to call him otherwise he will set me up for a follow up three weeks later. After one week still had pain so I called. He said no big deal just come in at the three week appointment and we will see what we can do. My question is: Is this too nonchalant of an attitude? Why did he not do an x-ray or MRI on the first initial visit? What is SOP for this type of injury?

    • A lot of it depends on your disability. If you can’t bear weight or need crutches then that puts things into a different category and usually steps up the level of investigation. It sounds like things are not that severe for you. So the other part is that sometimes things feel better on their own and that an MRI might not be needed if there is improvement. This gets to the point of conservative management which is very important in this day and age. If he did an MRI and saw a small tear and he recommended surgery, most people would say well what if I wait three weeks and see if it goes away on its own. People often want the diagnosis but don’t think far enough ahead to say well what if it shows a tear, would I have surgery right away? He is assuming a tear but giving you a chance to at conservative management.

  25. Hi,

    I’m a 40-year-old woman who did very little exercise – or even physically demanding activity – till I was 37, at which point I got myself an excellent trainer and started working out for the first time in my life. Gradually, over the last 3 years, I’ve gotten to a high level of physical fitness, mostly with cross-training and strength training. I love this stuff and it’s now a very important part of my lifestyle.

    A few months ago, while stretching after an intense workout, I felt a very sharp pain on the outer side of my left knee- almost like being cut by broken glass. At the time I was performing something like the frog pose: I originally thought it was an insect bite, but found no insects around, and didn’t notice any damage to my skin. The pain disappeared almost completely after a few minutes, but I noticed later in the day that I couldn’t kneel on that leg or even tap the knee-cap lightly without setting off the sharp pain, which was not at the knee-cap or front of the knee but at the same location as before – the joint line on the outside of the knee. I assumed I’d torn something, but I was able to do almost everything I normally did with no pain or change in ability: jumps, squats, deadlifts, even single-legged stuff, as long as I didn’t kneel on that knee. But slowly, over the course of a couple of months, I started experiencing a good bit of pain – not as sharp as before, but significant – with squats and lunges and eventually with anything involving some degree of knee flexion.

    I finally went to the orthopedist, who suspected a lateral meniscus tear, and sent me for an MRI. What the MRI revealed, however, was a discoid lateral meniscus with no discernible tears. Though the report didn’t indicate this, my orthopedist said my discoid meniscus might well be the unstable kind (Wrisberg variant), because he wasn’t sure he could see the appropriate femoral attachments, and also said that since this type of meniscus is very susceptible to tearing, there was likely a tear though it wasn’t visible in the MRI. (He was surprised though that I’d lasted till age 40 without the meniscus causing any problems, but as I said, I’d done virtually no physical activity beyond walking and some swimming for 37 years!) But since there was no visible tear and my pain was not debilitating with everyday activities, we decided to be conservative and elected not to have an arthroscopy and possible surgery. I got a cortisone shot in my knee a couple of weeks ago and that has improved the pain somewhat but not fully.

    For the last month, I’ve avoided any type of exercise involving my legs, and this past week I started walking uphill on the treadmill and the elliptical trainer, but even these cause some pain at the joint line. The pain is not severe, and I could easily live with it for a long time. But I don’t want to make it get worse; and I would like to avoid surgery if possible, especially because I’ve heard that surgery for an unstable discoid meniscus is ultimately not all that successful.

    My main question now is about the kind and level of training I can do going forward. I can deal with never doing certain things such as deep squats or stretches involving a lot of knee flexion and rotation, but I’d really like to get back to training my legs in some way. Can I slowly resume doing most other CF-style things (deadlifts, lunges, box-jumps, sprints etc.) or are they likely to make my knee condition worse? I really enjoy this style of working out and am hoping against hope that it’s not yet time for me to join the senior citizens in the aqua aerobics class. Many thanks for any advice you can give!

    • Typically I will have people in this situation try thingsd out on their own because only you know what activities will hurt. Do this not in a class on your own and with light weights. If thjings are not improved then you can get seen again.

  26. Hi there, I have a horizontal tear of the body and posterior horn of the medial meniscus with a tiny 2 mm posterior parameniscal cyst. Tear extends to the inferior articulate surface in the posterior horn and body. Does fixing this typically require cutting away the damaged tissue or can it be repaired? It’s located in the red/white zone.
    Any feedback would be great

    • Depends on quality of tissue, ideally red red zone is best for repair and sewing, horizontal tears not amenable to repairs, sometimes it takes probing and examining tissue at time of scope to determine repairability.

  27. The MCL will most likely heal without surgery and the tears may not heal depending on size, location, blood supply, and your age!

    • Doc

      Please reply me

      Im feeling soreness and tightness on and off on left knee.Mostly on outer right and inner right..what is the condition.

      • lots of possibilities, you should get examined

  28. Doc,
    I was told i have a tear in the lateral and medial meniscus in my right knee and a sprained MCL. How serious is this? how long would it take me to recover with out surgery?

  29. There is always hope, I have people recover from meniscus surgery and are cross fitting again. People who don’t do well after knee arthroscopies are those who already have known arthritis in their knees. As for squatting we would have to exclude professional football linemen, catchers and electricians or plumbers.

  30. Hi, I’m 24 year’s old, I started Crossfit about 7 weeks ago, I never felt better in my life, absolutely amazed with this. Unfortunately, my right knee started to hurt a lot after CF workouts and specifically when I was doing squads, my knee never swell, but the pain was getting worse with time, now it hurts if I walk too fast, so, I went to the Dr. that ordered an MRI, I have a lateral meniscus tear and several small synovial liquid cysts outside the meniscus product of the liquid leak by the tear itself. I’m scared as hell I may not be able to do CF again after the arthroscopy, they want to remove the cysts and the torn part, which is in the outer end of the right knee lateral meniscus and the tear is perpendicular to it. CF makes me feel like “out of this world” after every workout, I can’t describe it, is more than just happy. Now it’s been 2 weeks since I stop working out. I’d seen several specialists, but I have not decided who will perform the surgery yet. Is there hope? I ‘ve read about so many cases where ppl end with swelling, or pain or can’t bend the knee after 90, and worst the early arthritis it produces. They told me that after I fully recover I shouldn’t perform deep squads or pistols, which is not an option, and the risk of early arthritis because of CF should worry me, any precaution I can take if I actually recover?, I’m going insane with this, sorry if I’m asking too many questions. Great posts btw.

  31. Could be patellofemoral pain, I would have to see X-ray and examine you to give better advice. Obviously don’t recommend pushing through pain until I have seen you.

  32. Hi. 36-yr old F. Been crossfitting for about a year. Used to run alot until 4-5 yrs ago would get pain just after 1.75 mi on right knee – right side that would make it hard to go down stairs. Pain would last 1hr – 24hrs depending how long I ran on it.
    Stopped running for 3 yrs now. Only do small sprints with CF wods.
    Now possibly unrelated: when I go down in just a (air) squat, feels uncomfortable/pulling sensation with burning above and to my right of my right knee cap. Almost feels like a fb sensation as well?
    Went and saw an ortho guy who said it could be some of my cartiledge drifted over to the right (which I disagree with – maybe I was a poor historian) and suggested MRI but I’m deathly afraid of them. I know, weird phobia. Anyways, then he said he could just inject something and use a tiny camera to poke around in there and inject cortisone.
    I don’t want a bandaid or temporary solution. And I also want to know if I should discontinue squatting all together. Doesn’t hurt every time, just most of the time. And it’s not severe pain – just burning/pulling.
    Any advice?


  33. I am newer to exercise; lately I have been running and doing squats and lunges but have noticed that within a couple of lunges and squats and a few minutes into running it feels like something in the center of my knee is tearing. It doesn’t swell and the pain isn’t taking over my life; just makes working out uncomfortable. Thinking it is just areas of the body that aren’t use to being used? Thoughts?

    • Could be patellar tendinitis check out tendinitis post here

  34. Would not do anything that hurts it. Typically squatting with a meniscal tear can hurt. Ice is for pain relief and does not help it heal or get rid of swelling faster. Scope will probably be recommended if pain is not getting better or worsening. what else?

  35. I’m a 55 year young Crossfitting lady….love it, and miss it! I stupidly went in a 5k. run two days later my knee swelled up, that was way back in June of this year. I massively scaled back in my Crossfit workouts due to a Great coach. Finally got an MRI and have a Inferiorly Surfacing Medial Meniscus Tear, with large knee effusion and early osteoarthritis at the media l compartment is suspected….going to a Knee Dr. At the end of the month. BUT I hate waiting to see what this all means. I’ve been only doing upper body work at the box but so badly miss doing squats, and dead lifting etc… Not really sure what else I should be working on while not there as this is a huge waiting game re. getting it looked at and then scoping etc…any good ideas for me re. Work I can do for it. I’ve been reading lately also that icing isn’t good for it on Kelly’s site. What are your thoughts on this? As well as rehab work. Thanks!

    • 🙂

  36. 3 years ago I had the outer meniscus repaired and this has happened on two occasions….. I go into a deep squat and it goes pop and I can not stand to put pressure on it or even walk even walk. the first time this happened my wife took me to the er, i could only walk with crutches and they did there thing and gave me a percoset and in about 20 to 30 mins latter I could walk on it again. so today the same thing happened I am setting here with a heating pad on it and I took two tramedols and it is easing up on the pain. I have cut two fingers off with a skill saw so THIS PAIN IS LIKE 10x that pain!
    So what can I do? Have it removed???

    • I would have to see you for advice on that one. see xrays examine you etc. 6175275040

  37. Could be meniscus a lump in back of knee could be a baker’s cyst, just back from covering the CrossFit Games happy to see you. call office 617 527 5040 or make appointment online at

  38. Doc,
    I’m a 30 yr old CF’er. Recently i worked out in the morning and went to play basketball in the evening. To start warmups i attempted a soldier kick with my right leg and felt a tweak behind my right knee. As soon as I started jumping i knew something was wrong, with sharp pain behind my knee when my knee was bent more than a few degrees. I gave it a month of rest and saw an orthopedist in Boston MA, who told me the XRay was negative and likely a strain of the hamstring and pes tendon. I’ve been back in the gym and doing PT, but still feeling oddness behind my right knee. Feels like there is a baloon back there. Does the diagnosis sound right to you?
    I’ve dropped the weight on back squats from ~225 to ~175, and can do those mostly without pain, but worried that i’m barking up the wrong tree here. Sound like meniscus? would you wait for an MRI?
    thanks for all the great info.

  39. Sorry for the delay we had a software glitch and i didnt get people’s posts. As far as squatting below 90 do not torques the knee in htat position. a lot of orthopods are weary of this because of studies that show increase pressure in the meniscus with flexion beyond 90. However what do they say to catchers downlineman, people getting off the toilet, golfers picking up a ball, etc.

  40. Hey. In 2011 i had a rigth ACL reconstruction and a year later a meniscus repair to the same knee. My knee feels great know but i am afraid to start crossfitting again. Should I be worried about it? My doc said nevier go deeper than 90* when squatting, what is your opinion? Any advice would be greatly appreciated

    • Hello 🙂

  41. It’s in the works

  42. Sean- any chance you’ll do a write up on “jumpers knee”?

  43. 2 issues here repair is when it gets sewn back together and heals with scar tissue,. Repair is only done in certain tear patterns and if the tear is in an area where it has a blood supply and will heal. Trimming a meniscus is done when the tear does not have a blood supply and is like trimming a hangnail. Typically people do well and are able to return to sports after both. I would be happy to talk further to clarify any questions.

  44. Thanks so much for the info. I think I have a torn meniscus, and maybe “baker’s cyst”. Possibly other issues in my knee after just a few weeks starting CF. After getting a meniscus repaired, is it “good as new” eventually? Or is it always a problem to a degree? Thank you

  45. This is a great resource for information!

    Just a quick question on meniscus injury prevention.

    I do yoga and think/hope that it is helping prevent injuries in crossfit.
    But are there any warm up’s or exercise’s that minimize the potential of injuring the meniscus?

    And when it comes to fish oil, does it provide any benefit for the meniscus or all cartilage for that matter?

    Again, thanks for the site!

    • I would say that knee flexion and gentle quad stretching would be good. Also hamstring stretches are important. I do not know of a scientific study that has proven a direct measurable benefit to cartilage or preventing tears.

  46. Hi Sean,

    I practice brazilian jiu jitsu as well as crossfit. Recently, I’ve had numerous episodes of bilateral knee locking while doing BJJ. Crossfit has been fine -can squat, pistols, etc without difficult. MRI shows a huge lateral discoid meniscus bilaterally with a tiny peripheral tear at the peripheral vascular zone of my rt meniscus. Otherwise, my discoid meniscus looks intact. Trying to decide if surgery is worthwhile to fix the tear and saucerize the mensicus. Somewhat reluctant to do so as the problem is only apparently when I train BJJ. Do you have any thoughts on success of discoid mensicus reshaping?

    • Hi Tom, I have had experience with many discoid menisci. If you are getting into locking situations then that is not a good thing. Imagine a marble getting stuck in a door jam and closing the door harder to try and get it out. You can do more damage to the joint surface and the tear can also get bigger. OPtions are simple either don’t get into locking situations or have the surgery which if it is a trimming will take 4-6 weeks for full tilt activities again usually. Happy to see you, Sean

  47. This website is great, the pictures help a lot! I recently had an incident of sudden swelling below my knee after kneeling pretty hard on tile and wood floors. That has subsided (I’m guessing bursitis?) and now after trying to be somewhat “aggressive” about doing knee strengthening type of exercises, I have pain on the outside of that same knee, tender to the touch, right around the area and above and below the lateral meniscus. Is ITBS more likely or could I have a torn meniscus without being aware of it? I am in the “brittle and dehydrated tissue” age group so I’m worried about something more serious. Thanks!

    • Lateral pain with squatting can be lateral meniscus, ITB would be from repetitive stuff. Good idea to get it checked out, Sean

  48. Hey there Doc,

    Amazing information!
    I am a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter, so I end up with my knees in funky positions. I had surgery to trim my medial meniscus (left knee) in February. It felt great, was back training. Popped it again in training in May had huge swelling again. Does it sound like I tore it again?

    Now I can’t walk, until I hear a pop which I can deal with, and I walk fine. I do get that sharp pain in the back of my knee when I squat.. And when my heal touches my butt.
    Will more rolling on IT band and Hammies and opening up hips help relieve this.?

    Can strengthening my VMO and Hammies fix this?

    And I also seem to not have any symptoms when I am training BJJ and rolling around..

    Thoughts? And Thank you!!

    • Without physical exam it would be hard for the doc to tell. What was the mechanism when you felt the pop again? Another mensical tear is possible but there are more complicated diags that can accompany your symptoms as well.

    • Don’t like the pop and swelling wtih persistent pain thing, I would get evaluated.

  49. Great info – i have a pain just above the knee cap on my right knee. It is a throbbing rather than stabbing pain. It feels like the tissue that runs down my knee is inflamed. It has been a niggle for a while, but after heavy thrusters yesterday it is noticeably sore a lot of the time. Any thoughts?

    • most likely a quad tendonitis or patellofemoral syndrome, topics coming soon

    • Doc, I’m having an issue with my right knee- in march I fell backwards while trying to do clean in a CF garage games event- after I fell i noticed some pain in my knee right above my knee cap- I went to see a DR. And I was told after x rays I had a calcium deposit in the spot where it hurts in my knee- I was told from the exam the DR did I didn’t have any other damage and he said it was fine to continue training – he told me to ice my knee before and after workouts and gave me some advice onto form for doing squats and told me the pain I’m Gavin will ease over time and for me to deal with it and by working out will not cause any more damage- he mentioned if I did tear something that would be a good thing because he could fix the problem with surgery, and with a calcium deposit there’s nothing he can do- with all of that my coach wants me to find out more about my knee- my strength in my right knee is bad and not sure what to do – I can squat 305# with no pain in my knee and then I Try to do a pistol And i can’t do one and if I use a band with them it still hurts – the strength in my left leg is noticeably stronger now since the injury than my right- I know my flexibility is not great, with my hamstrings, hips and shoulders being the worst- i have never had knee issues before and wanted to know if you had any idea based on my situation-

      • I would have to examine you to give you any real helpful advice. It could be a lot of things but I would be guessing without seeing you. Are you local?

      • Yes I live in Medway and have Aetna for insurance if you take them- I would see you ASAP

        • Give the office a call 617 527 5040. I would be happy to see you.

          • Ok I will call in Tuesday! Thanks Doc

  50. Doc,
    Trying to determine if its tendinitis or cartilage. Been icing and advil, seems to be getting better. I have stopped running and impact for now.

    • That is the best way to figure out if something is going to get better on its own. Sometimes people will continue to push through the pain and it just muddies the picture a little. Good luck.

  51. I had a left ACL reconstruction with a pretty large medial meniscal repair last July. The recovery was slow compared to my previous two right ACL reconstructions but until about two months ago I was feeling great. Recently I had to have my knee drained and jumping/running is extremely difficult. As a crossfitter, is it better to just have that meniscal repair removed? Or keep it in as long as possible even if it is slowing me down? I’m afraid to be without all that Cushion at 30…

    • So number one most important question is why is your knee swelling. Were there arthritic changes in there or is something going on with the meniscus repair. You obviously want to leave the meniscus repair in if it is working, but if it is torn it may need to be checked out again.

  52. All done, check it out.

    • it was ITB since I kept running. What I didn’t tell them was that the pain on a scale of 1-10 was aronud a 9 when I finished running.Anyways, 2 years later (and no running in between) I find out I needed to fix my lateral meniscus and it was in pretty bad shape. After the arthroscopy my surgeon said he (took out? I’m not sure about the phrasing) 2/3 of the lateral meniscus and it would take aronud 6-7 months to get to the point where I could run a bit again.Well, now it’s almost a year later and I still feel some pain aronud my knee, feels like ITB actually. Instead of straight running I’m doing triathlon training. Unfortunately, running doesn’t feel like it used to since I have to be careful not to overuse the knee too much. Also when I stand up and flex both my quads the right knee tends to crackle a little bit but it doesn’t hurt too much (is that normal?)Is it okay for me to run as long as I don’t feel too much pain?I’m also 20 years old.

      • some people will have little cracking or noise when knee is flexed but i don’t like the pain wiht running part. You should be seen again

  53. Great info! Could you write about biceps pain??


  1. Baker's Cysts - What Are They? | 321GOMD - […] a meniscal tear is causing the knee to swell, then arthroscopy can be helpful in decreasing the pain from…

About Me

D Sean Rockett, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon and senior partner of Orthopedics New England with offices in Natick, Newton and Hopkinton, MA. Dr. Rockett is a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer and co-owner of CrossFit Launchpad. He also enjoys being the head orthopedic surgeon of the CrossFit Games Medical team.

About 321GOMD Blog

This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about med­i­cine, health and related sub­jects. The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other health care worker.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 80 other subscribers

Add our banner to your page.

Get the Code Here