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Meniscus Repair Everything You Need To Know

Meniscus Repair Everything You Need To Know

What Is The Meniscus and What Does It Do For The Knee Joint?

The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of tissue that sits between the bones of the knee joint. It acts as a shock absorber, cushioning the bones and cartilage of the knee and protecting the joint. Meniscal tears are a common knee injury, particularly among athletes. Read below to learn more about Meniscus Repair Everything You Need To Know.

When the meniscus is damaged, it can cause pain, clicking, swelling, and stiffness. Meniscus surgery is often required to address the injury, especially when non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy fail. There are two main options for meniscus surgery: meniscus repair (suturing of the meniscus tissue back together) and meniscectomy (removal of the torn meniscus tissue). Not all meniscus tears are able to be repaired due to poor blood supply. In this situation, the torn flap of tissue is removed to prevent further pain, clicking, and swelling. In either case, meniscus surgery is performed arthroscopically through small incisions in the front of the knee. Meniscus surgery is generally successful in restoring patients’ function and improving their quality of life. 

Causes of Meniscus Tears 

The most common way a meniscus is torn is through a twisting injury to the knee. It can be torn if the joint is suddenly twisted or turned, often during sports activities. Meniscus tears are fairly common, especially in people who play contact sports such as football, lacrosse, or hockey. They can also occur in older adults as the joint deteriorates with age.

There are two types of meniscus tears: degenerative and traumatic. Degenerative tears are caused by the gradual wear and tear of the meniscus with aging. They can happen alongside arthritis changes to the joint. Traumatic tears are typically seen in younger patients (<40) and are caused by a sudden injury to the knee joint. Both types of tears can be painful and may require surgery to resolve.

Symptoms of Meniscus Tears

Symptoms of a meniscus tear include pain, swelling, and stiffness in the knee joint. The pain may be mild at first, but it can worsen with activity or movement. There may also be a popping or clicking sensation when the knee is moved or bent. If the tear is severe, it may cause the knee to give out or “lock” in place. In this situation, you should seek medical attention from a sports medicine specialist immediately. An MRI or X-ray may be needed to confirm the diagnosis. 

Treatment Options For a Meniscus Tear

Non-surgical Treatment Options

In many situations, the first step in treating a meniscus tear is to rest the knee and avoid any activities that may aggravate the injury. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) can be used to help relieve pain and swelling. Physical therapy may also be recommended to help strengthen the muscles around the knee and improve the range of motion. 

If these conservative treatment options do not provide relief, an injection can be helpful. Typically we utilize a cortisone injection to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. Another option is platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, which use your body’s blood plasma to stimulate healing and improve pain and inflammation. 

Surgical Treatment Options

If non-surgical treatment options do not provide relief, surgery may be necessary to repair the torn meniscus. In some instances, surgery is required immediately, especially in younger patients or meniscus tears associated with other injuries in the knee such as an ACL tear. The type of surgery that is performed on the meniscus will depend on the location and severity of the tear. Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that uses small incisions and a camera to visualize the meniscus tear. Partial removal of the meniscus (meniscectomy) may be necessary if the tear is irreparable. In some cases, it may be possible to sew the torn edges back together (meniscus repair). 

Recovery Time

Recovery times vary depending on the type of meniscus tear and whether the surgeon removes or repairs the damaged tissue. Generally, it takes about 6-8 weeks for patients to recover fully from surgery if the meniscus is removed. Repair of the meniscus requires a longer recovery with more extensive rehab, sometimes lasting up to 6 months.

After surgery, patients will likely need to use a cane or crutches to protect the knee during weight bearing. Some meniscus repairs even require a period of time after surgery where no pressure is allowed on the leg (Non-weight bearing status).  Physical therapy is recommended to help restore the range of motion and strengthen the muscles around the knee post-operatively. 

Most patients are able to return to their normal activities, including sports, within 3-6 months after surgery. 

Final Thought

If you suspect you have a torn meniscus, it’s important to see an Orthopaedic Surgeon. Contact Dr. Capogna @ 516-627-8717 or request an immediate appointment at https://www.orthopaedicassociatesmanhasset.com/request-an-appointment/.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help speed your recovery and prevent long-term complications. 

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