Like many knee injuries, a meniscus tear can be painful and debilitating. It is also quite a common injury as a meniscal tear is one of the most frequently occurring injuries of the knee.
The meniscus functions like a shock absorber for your car. Your knee has two C-shaped discs of cartilage that connect your thighbone to your shinbone which helps to keep your knee stable. It also works to protect your bones from wear and tear.
In severe cases, a large bucket handle tear or a piece of the shredded cartilage breaks loose and catches in your knee joint, causing it to lock up.
When you tear your meniscus, it may not be as obvious initially as the swelling limits movement of the knee. Once the inflammation settles down and you start to experience sharp pain within the knee, one should be aware of the possibility of a torn meniscus.
Depending on the size and location of the meniscus tear, your doctor may suggest either surgical or non-surgical treatment. If the tear is small, non-surgical treatment may suffice as the outer portion of the meniscus has a good supply of blood and can sometimes heal itself.
On the contrary, if the tear is in the inner two-thirds of the meniscus, surgical treatment may be required as this white zone doesn’t have a good supply of blood and will not heal on its own. In addition, if the tear is large, unstable, or causing locking symptoms, surgery may be required to either repair or remove your torn meniscus.
Besides, your doctor will consider numerous factors before recommending surgery. This includes your symptoms, age, overall health, lifestyle goals, the cause, location, shape, and size of your meniscus tear.
A meniscus tear surgery can help in the following aspects:
– Get you back to playing your sports or other activities
– Improve your knee’s mobility
– Make your knee more stable
– Prevent or slow the development of arthritis
– Reduce or completely relieve knee pain
If you decide to get the surgery, you will be reviewed by the anaesthetist for pre-surgical optimization to determine whether you are healthy enough for the surgery. The procedure is a simple one and you will likely go home the same day with a brace on your knee for protection.
The most common procedure to treat a torn meniscus is knee arthroscopy which usually takes less than an hour. Before the surgery, you will be given anaesthesia to maximise your comfort levels during the surgery.
After that, the surgeon will make several small incisions around your knee and insert the necessary surgical instruments through them. One of these instruments will be the arthroscope which projects video images onto a monitor, enabling your surgeon to see the inside of your knee and decide which surgical technique to perform.
There are two techniques which are meniscus repair and partial meniscectomy. The first technique involves sewing torn pieces of cartilage back together so they can heal on their own while the second technique allows the surgeon to trim and remove the damaged cartilage and leave healthy meniscus tissue in place. The suitability of using either type of technique depends on the size and location of the meniscus tear.
Depending on the technique used, your surgeon will insert other surgical tools to assist during the surgery. Once the surgery is completed, your surgeon will close the incisions with stitches or surgical strips which are then covered with a bandage.
Since the procedure is a simple one, you will likely return home the same day with a brace fitted to your knee to protect and stabilise it. You will also have to use crutches for at least a month to keep your bodyweight off your knee.
During your first week after the surgery, you will feel tired for several days and your knee will be swollen. You can reduce the swelling by icing it regularly for a few days and you should notice some improvement in your knee.
Throughout your meniscus tear surgery recovery, your surgeon may suggest physiotherapy to help increase your range of motion and help your knee get stronger. In time, your knee will become stronger and more stable than it was before the surgery.
As for how soon you can get back to work or sports activity, this depends on how well you follow your rehabilitation plan and your knee’s healing progress. Your doctor or physiotherapists will monitor your recovery progress and determine when it is safe for you to return to your activities.
If you had a partial meniscectomy, you might be able to return to work or sports in about 4 to 6 weeks. However, if you had a meniscus repair, it may take a slightly longer period of recovery.
If you want to get better as quickly as possible, here’s a brief guideline to speed up your meniscus tear surgery recovery.
Getting enough sleep will help you recover faster. Make sure to sleep with your knee raised by putting a pillow under your foot for the first few days.
When you shower, keep your bandage and incisions dry by taping a sheet of plastic to cover them.
You will be able to drive when you’re no longer using the crutches or a knee brace, no longer taking prescribed pain medications, and have some control over your knee.
How soon you can go back to work after a meniscus tear surgery depends on the individual, type of repair and type of work.If you sit at work, you can return in 1 to 2 weeks but if you are mostly on your feet at work, it may take 4 to 6 weeks. If you are physically active, it may take up to 3 months.
You can have your normal diet but if your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yoghurt.
Drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated.
Your rehabilitation exercises are an important part of your recovery, some of which will help to improve your knee’s movement and allow you to regain muscle strength.
Also, make sure to attend your follow-up visits as scheduled. This will allow your surgeon to monitor your recovery progress as well as determine whether it is safe for you to return to your daily activities. In a nutshell, meniscus surgery can fix a torn meniscus.
At Spire Orthopaedic Centre, everyone should be cared for and healed holistically in comfort without having to travel to different locations to seek medical and surgical help and rehabilitation support.
With a combined facility for collaboration between physicians, physiotherapists, and surgeons, you will experience a seamless service from diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation, that’s tailored just for you at our clinic.