07/13/2012 12:19 pm ET

Meniscus Tear: Blake Griffin's Olympics-Ending Injury Explained

Blake Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers' star forward who was chosen for Team USA , will no longer compete in the Olympics because of a knee injury known as a meniscus tear that he suffered, potentially during a
Wednesday practice.

Torn menisci are a common form of knee injury for athletes (especially of contact sports) and regular people alike. Each knee has an inner and outer meniscus -- cushiony discs of cartilage that help stabilize and keep weight distributed evenly across the knee joint. When a meniscus tears, it can cause pain and swelling, and can even prevent functional use of the knee in more extreme injuries.

According to the Washington Post, Griffin has been experiencing discomfort in his left knee throughout the post season, but his dismissal from Team USA on Thursday may have been the result of a collision with teammate, John Wall. As the Post reported:

Wall blew past Harden, then his right foot stepped on Griffin’s left foot, causing Griffin’s left knee to twist and buckle awkwardly ... Griffin needed help from Harden to get back up.

Meniscus tears can vary in severity. A moderate tear can cause pain and swelling and can recur if the sufferer remains active and the tear is left untreated, according to WebMD. A serious tear can lead to major complications, with pieces of the tendon actually breaking away and littering the joint socket. This can cause the knee to give out without warning, catch, lock or "pop."

Treatments for a meniscus tear vary -- minor tears usually require only rest and some physical therapy, whereas severe tears often result in surgery. If the tear is in the outer meniscus -- or the patient is older -- surgery might not be the best option.

Griffin is scheduled for arthroscopic surgery early next week, according to an early report in the Los Angeles Times, with Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic performing the surgery that will require about eight weeks of recovery time.

The Times reports that Griffin will recover in time for Clippers' preseason camp. The 23-year-old power forward just signed a five-year $95 million contract with the team.

His replacement on Team USA is unknown at this time.