One of the most common knee injuries seen by your Louisiana orthopedic surgeon
is a meniscus tear. The meniscus is the cartilage that is located on either side of the
knee, medial and lateral menisci. The main purpose of the meniscus is to provide
cushioning and protection for ligaments in the knee.
In some cases, the meniscus is damaged slowly over time causing fraying that
can’t be repaired. Meniscus tears in younger adults are normally clean tears that
are easier to repair. When someone injures their meniscus, they typically
experience pain, swelling, and a limited range of motion.
You have a meniscus tear, now what?
Meniscus tears are treated either surgically or non-surgically by your Louisiana
orthopedic surgeon, depending on the severity of the tear, location of the tear and
patient age. Most patients who need surgical intervention, do so to repair
mechanical issues related to the meniscal tear such as locking of the knee, the
inability to straighten the knee or a clicking/popping sound in the knee joint.
If a patient has an acute tear, non-surgical treatment may be successful at
controlling the pain. The patient can ice the knee, in addition to decreasing activity.
If this doesn’t help your orthopedic surgeon can prescribe physical therapy or
administer a steroid injection to decrease inflammation within the joint.
If these measures are unsuccessful at relieving pain, then surgical intervention may
be the next step. It is rare to have a meniscus tear heal on its own without surgery,
and most nonsurgical options will help relieve symptoms but not heal the tear.
There are two major surgeries someone with a meniscus tear might have. The more
common surgery is a meniscectomy. A meniscectomy is where your Louisiana
orthopedic surgeon goes into the knee and cuts out all – or a portion of – the
meniscus. Traditionally, patients have had a lot of success with this procedure. But
over time the lack of a meniscus can lead to increase wear and tear on the knee,
which can lead to a knee replacement in the future.
Are you a candidate for meniscus repair surgery?
Another newer surgical option is a meniscus repair. In order to have a meniscus
repair surgery, the tear must be on the outside edge of the meniscus, where there is
adequate blood flow to support healing. If a repair is possible, the outcomes are
more successful than a meniscectomy.
There are a variety of factors that play into the success of a meniscus repair
surgery. Most importantly, commitment to rehabilitation is key. After a meniscus
surgery, patients will have weight bearing and range of motion restrictions in
addition to attending physical therapy regularly. If patients are committed to their
recovery they can be healed in 8 months.