Meniscus Repair Surgery
Localized pain, stiffness, and swelling in the knee are common symptoms of a torn meniscus. The pain may worsen with movement or bending of the joint. You might also feel a ‘catching’ sensation, giving way or buckling, or your knee might feel like it “locks up”. These can all be potential signs of a meniscus tear.
Your doctor will most likely use the following tests to confirm a meniscus tear:
- Physical exam
Typically after a meniscus repair surgery, you can return to non-strenuous everyday activity within a few weeks however, it can take 3 to 6 months to fully recover. At that time, you should be able to return to your active lifestyle.
Of course, your total recovery time will depend upon your health and the severity of the injury. Diligent compliance with your post-operative Physical therapy program will also help reduce the time to full recovery.
Meniscus repair surgery is a common and highly successful procedure in the US. There are more than 750,000 orthopedic knee arthroscopy procedures performed each year and it has a better than 90 percent patient satisfaction rate.
The surgery to repair a meniscus tear is primarily arthroscopic or minimally invasive. The surgeon makes small incisions introduce the arthroscope (camera). He or she can then see and do the entire surgery ‘inside’ your leg. This reduces the chance of infection. It also reduces your recovery time. Your surgeon will insert sutures or fixation devices to mend the meniscus tear. Sometimes, the repair will require incisions as well.
What is a meniscus? The knee has a specialized soft tissue structure called a meniscus. It is made mostly of collagen. It sits between the bottom of the femur (thigh bone) and the top of the tibia (shin bone) and acts as a cushion or pad. A torn meniscus is a tear of this specialized structure. Unfortunately, when a meniscus tears, it does not heal due to its poor blood supply. If you have a meniscus tear, depending on the severity of your tear, you may be a candidate for meniscus repair surgery. Meniscus repairs are typically an outpatient surgical procedure that aims to restore the full function of the knee through a variety of minimally invasive techniques. If conservative treatments have been exhausted to heal a meniscus tear, surgery may be the next best treatment to help you return to your active lifestyle.
The meniscus can be injured in various ways; however, the most common occur from rapid turning or twisting or applying high amounts of vertical load (weight) without proper activation of supporting muscles, such as squatting heavy weight without properly warming up or activating the appropriate muscles. Meniscus injuries may result from sudden trauma to the knee or can occur as a result of chronic wear and tear of the joint.
The meniscus tear will not heal on its own; however, the pain and inflammation can and often will decrease on its own with proper rest and cautious exercise. If you’re still experiencing pain after taking proper precautions, it’s recommended to speak with your orthopedic physician. A torn meniscus needs immediate care when the knee “locks” or isn’t able to complexly bend or straighten. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation and learn if meniscus repair surgery is right for you:
Call (719) 632-7669
Meniscectomy vs. Meniscus Repair
Meniscectomy is another surgical treatment for injured meniscus. Rather than ‘repair,” the surgeon fully or partially ‘removes‘ or ‘trims‘ the meniscus. This is typically performed when the torn portion of the meniscus is small, or the tear pattern will not benefit from “repair” stitches. Remember that the majority of the meniscus does not have a blood supply, so its ability to heal is severely diminished.
A meniscectomy may be your best treatment option if:
- The meniscus has significantly deteriorated tissue
- Parts of the meniscus are almost completely torn already
Types of Meniscus Repair
There are four basic types of meniscus repair:
- Open technique
- Inside-out technique
- Outside-in technique
- All-inside technique
The technique used will depend upon the severity and location of the meniscus tear.
What Types of Meniscus Repair Require Surgery?
You will likely need surgery to repair your meniscus if:
- You have multiple tears
- Your knee is ‘locked up’
- You have advanced tissue deterioration
- You have also damaged the MCL
What Is The Meniscus Tear Recovery Time Without Surgery?
You may recover from a meniscus tear without surgery within 4 to 8 weeks. Recovery times will vary upon your health, resting appropriately, and the severity of your injury.
Surgery is just one treatment option to repair a torn meniscus. Other treatment options include:
- Exercise and physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Joint aspiration and injection
- Knee braces
The benefits and advantages of meniscus repair surgery include:
- Faster recovery
- Pain reduction
- Restored function and mobility of the knee
- Mitigates further degeneration of the knee
The risks and disadvantages of meniscus repair surgery include:
- Further medical complications and pain
- Re-tear of the meniscus
Preparation for your meniscus repair surgery includes:
- Medications: You may be required to stop taking specific medicines and supplements prior to surgery. Cutting down or stopping smoking will decrease the risk of infection and blood clots and improve healing.
- Diet: Your physician may recommend a weight loss program and you will likely be required to fast for several hours before surgery.
- Transportation: be sure to arrange your post-surgery transportation plan prior to surgery day.
- Home: we also recommend making home arrangements for the first several days post-surgery since mobility will be impaired.
What to Expect After Meniscus Repair
You may or may not have a hospital stay after your surgery. Your doctor will give you post-operative care instructions. This may include:
- Wound and bandage cleaning
- Pain and anti-inflammatory medications
- Diet and supplements
- Therapy and exercises
You will also need a follow-up appointment to check progress and remove sutures. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience increased pain or other medical problems.
Your doctor will likely refer you to a physical therapist for post-surgery rehabilitation. Dependent upon your knee and overall health, your physical therapy program may last several weeks to a year.
Physical therapy aims to safely restore knee strength and mobility. Physical therapists receive special movement training to best provide you with exercises and stretches and work directly with your physicians to ensure you receive the best overall treatment. To help you recover from your meniscus repair surgery, CSOG offers on-site physical and occupational therapy.
Our Orthopaedic Doctors
At Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group, you have access to top knee repair surgeons. Our doctors are board-certified and committed to delivering the highest quality of care.
Michael Huang, MD
Dr. Huang specializes in treating orthopedic sports medicine injuries. His treatments involve both surgical and non-surgical options.
Jamie Friedman, MD
Dr. Friedman’s interests include treating a full range of sports injuries and specializes in complex injuries involving the shoulder and knee.
Christopher Jones, MD
Dr. Jones is fellowship-trained in the treatment of sports medicine injuries and disorders of the shoulder.
John Redfern, MD
In addition to general orthopedic care, Dr. Redfern has a particular interest in arthroscopic and open techniques for shoulder and knee disorders.
Richard Stockelman, MD
Dr. Stockelman’s professional interests include simple and complex problems of the shoulder and the knee.
Is a Meniscus Repair Surgery Right for You?
Surgery is a significant medical treatment option, and it is not for everyone. Call our office to schedule a consultation and learn if meniscus repair surgery is right for you.