The knee is the largest joint in the body, and it relies heavily on cartilage such as the meniscus for stability. Being so heavily used, the menisci in your knees are prone to tearing. A torn meniscus requires repair to restore the wide range of movement capable of the knee.
You know you’ve got a torn meniscus if you feel pain in your knee that restricts your ability to twist or rotate your knee. You may also be unable to straighten your knee. The pain may be accompanied by swelling, and knee popping sensation is common.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a torn meniscus, know that there are a variety of treatment methods available to you, both surgical and nonsurgical.
Nonsurgical Treatment for a Torn Meniscus
A torn meniscus may be treated nonsurgically with a combination of strength training, physical therapy, medication, and anti-inflammatory cortisone injections. However, your orthopedic doctor is in the best position to recommend the proper type of treatment depending on the extent of your injury and your overall condition.
Surgical intervention may be recommended when other methods fail.
Surgically Repairing a Torn Meniscus
To surgically fix a torn meniscus, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend meniscus repair or meniscus removal (meniscectomy). In both procedures, the goal is to save as much healthy meniscus tissue as possible and rejoin cartilage at the tear to encourage healing in the right position.
The tear is generally considered eligible for a meniscus repair procedure if it occurred in the outer third area of the meniscus because that is the only part of the meniscus supplied with blood, which is required for tissue to heal.
Removal of damaged meniscus tissue also offers good results, although it can lead to arthritis in the area a decade or two after the surgery.
Meniscus repair and removal procedures can both be performed arthroscopically – that is, in a minimally invasive outpatient procedure in which a slender, flexible tube with an attached camera (arthroscope) is inserted into the knee joint. It is often the surgical technique patients prefer because it requires a smaller incision and spares healthy surrounding tissue – which can reduce recovery time, scarring, and post-op pain for patients.
Physical Therapy after Torn Meniscus Surgery
Post-op rehabilitation plays a very important part in the complete healing of the torn meniscus.
Initially, you will be instructed to keep your leg elevated, and to apply a cold compress on the area as needed. Engaging in physical therapy will help you regain mobility.
Follow your doctor’s instructions but generally post-op patients are asked to avoid strenuous activities. You should be able to walk without crutches or a walker within a few weeks of the procedure, and you should regain the full function of the affected knee in as little as four months after the surgery.
Orthopedic Surgeon in Little Rock, Arkansas
Dr. William Hefley is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon based in Little Rock, and he has been in practice since 1990. He specializes in minimally invasive surgeries for the knee, hip, and shoulder and is trained and experienced in arthroscopic procedures.
The team of physical therapists in his Little Rock and North Little Rock clinics also provide post-operative rehabilitation for surgical procedures – such as those to repair knee injuries like a torn meniscus. Physical therapy plays a crucial role in your complete healing.
At the orthopedic office of Dr. Bill Hefley, our goal is to restore your mobility, strength, balance, and coordination so you can get back to living your life. To schedule your consultation, call (800) 336-2412 or request an appointment now.