Traumatic meniscal tears most commonly occur during twisting sports such as football and basketball, but skiers, runners, and tennis players are also at risk. Older patients can tear their meniscus during normal activities of daily living, usually as a consequence of ageing and degenerative wear of the knee joint (knee joint arthritis). The degree of vascular penetration into the periphery of the meniscus ranges from 10% to 25% of the meniscal width. Consequently, most areas of the meniscus cannot heal by themselves because they are not vascularised. 
Additional risk factors include occupations that stress the joint (e.g., construction work and manual labour jobs that involve knee flexion while lifting heavy objects), malalignment of the knee joint, previous ligament injury (especially anterior cruciate ligament injury), and knee instability. Furthermore, it is suggested that increased friction from various sporting turfs may lead to a meniscal tear. Poor ground or weather conditions increase the likelihood of slips, falls, and improper landings, further increasing the risk of meniscal tears.  The presence of a discoid meniscus is also associated with a slightly higher risk of meniscal tears (discoid lateral meniscus is found in 3.5% to 5% of meniscal tear patients).