Do I have a meniscus tear?
One of the most common knee injuries seen here at Direct Orthopedic Care (DOC) in Boise, Idaho is a meniscus tear. The meniscus is cartilage on either side of the knee, medial and lateral menisci. The 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 which can’t be repaired. Meniscus tears in younger adults are usually a clean tear which is easier to repair. When someone injures their meniscus they usually experience pain, swelling, and limited range of motion.
I have a meniscus tear, now what?
Meniscus tears are treated surgically and non-surgically depending on the severity of the tear, location of the tear, and patient age. Most patients who have surgical intervention, do so to repair mechanical issues related to the meniscal tear such as locking of the knee, unable 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 a provider can prescribe physical therapy or 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, 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 a 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.
If you are concerned about a knee injury, walk-in to DOC 365 days a year!