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Meniscus Repair Options

March 18, 2017

An injured kneeThe meniscus is a c-shaped piece of cartilage that sits at the knee and acts as a cushion between the thighbone and shinbone. Rotating the knee with too much force, like when playing sports, can result in a torn meniscus. Tears to the meniscus can be debilitating, making it difficult or too painful to walk or move the knee. When the meniscus won't heal on its own, surgery may be the best option. Knee surgery can help repair torn menisci, restoring mobility and relieving knee pain. If you would like more information about meniscus repair and live in the Austin, TX area, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our team at the Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin.

About Meniscus Tears

A meniscus tear is a common knee injury involving the cartilage that cushions the knee joint. Tears may occur as a result of acute trauma or may develop over time from general wear and tear on the knee joint, known as a degenerative tear. Acute meniscus tears are further categorized by location and type. These include:

  • Radial tears: Radial tears are small tears that run along the radius of the meniscus, extending from inside the meniscus to the periphery of the meniscus
  • Horizontal cleavage tears: These tears split a large area of the meniscus in half, creating two “c” shaped discs.
  • Bucket handle tears: Bucket handle tears describe a meniscus tear in which the meniscus tears into a “c” shaped disc that flips over, like a bucket handle, to sit in front of the knee.  

Meniscus Repair Options

Some tears may heal with proper rest or rehabilitation while others may require surgery. The type, size, location, and severity of the tear, along with a person's activity level, will be considered in determining the best course of action. Some meniscus tears may heal with non-surgical treatment in the form of physical therapy, elevating the injured knee, applying ice, or resting. In other cases, surgical repair may be the most suitable option. 

Surgical repair of the meniscus may be done through open surgery or an arthroscopic approach. With open surgery, an incision is made to open the knee, allowing the surgeon to see inside the knee to repair the meniscus. With arthroscopic surgery, a small incision is made at the knee through which a slender tube with a tiny camera and light on the end, called an arthroscope, is inserted. Another small incision is then made to insert surgical instruments to repair the meniscus. 

What to Expect after Meniscus Repair Surgery

After undergoing surgery to repair the meniscus, patients should expect to experience some pain and swelling, which will subside as the knee heals. It is often recommended to keep the knee as immobile as possible for the first two weeks of recovery. However, physical therapy generally starts shortly after surgery and should be followed as directed. Strenuous activity, such as running, squatting, or other activities that may strain the knee, should be avoided until cleared by a physician.

The Risks of Meniscus Repair Surgery

Although the risks of meniscus repair surgery are rare, it is important to understand the potential risks before undergoing surgery. Some possible risks of meniscus repair surgery include:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots within the leg
  • Nerve damage around the knee
  • Blood vessel damage around the knee

Learn More about Your Treatment Options

If you're suffering from a torn meniscus, meniscus repair may be right for you. To learn more about your treatment options, you are encouraged to schedule a consultation.