You have a meniscus in each side of your knee. This cartilage helps stabilize and protect the joint, but can wear down as we age. A torn or damaged meniscus cannot heal on its own, therefore, surgery is required to restore full mobility to the knee. Our doctors at Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin specialize in arthroscopic meniscus treatment. We can repair damaged knee cartilage that causes pain and limits mobility and function of the knee. If you are suffering from pain and swelling in the knee, you can receive expert meniscus surgery at our Cedar Park, TX, practice to alleviate your pain and stabilize your knee.
Our doctors can evaluate your knee to determine if a tear has occurred and develop an appropriate treatment plan to relieve your discomfort.
The Function of Your Meniscus
A meniscus is a piece of cartilage that helps cushion the knee joint and absorbs shock from stress placed during regular movement. You have two menisci in each knee. These crescent-shaped disks and are located on the inner and outer sides of your knee. You can damage your knee and tear your meniscus from trauma or sports injuries, as well as regular wear and aging. A tear in the meniscus may not inhibit your ability to walk, but it can make walking and other activities painful. In more severe instances, your knee may feel weak and unstable, which can make you feel off-balance. Because the menisci protect your knee joint and other cartilage surrounding the joint, a tear can also cause additional damage to other areas of the knee.
Symptoms of a Torn Meniscus
Meniscus tears range from minor to severe. Minor tears generally cause mild discomfort and some inflammation, which typically dissipates within a few days, despite the cartilage’s inability to heal itself. Moderate meniscus tears can cause more pain and swelling that worsens over the course of several days. You can typically still walk, but bending the knee is difficult. Although your pain may subside within a couple weeks, it will typically return with overuse, and you may experience pain off and on for several years if the tear is left untreated.
A severe tear can separate the meniscus into pieces, which can dislodge and affect the joint. You may experience a popping sound, or your knee may feel locked in place. Severe tears often cause the feeling of imbalance. Pain and swelling are often intense, and increase within the first few days following the initial injury.
Goal of Surgical Meniscus Repair
The goal of arthroscopic meniscus repair is to correct the tear in the cartilage and restore function to your knee without partial or complete removal of the meniscus. With arthroscopic surgery, our team of doctors can repair the meniscus through smaller incisions, so you have minimal scarring. The procedure itself is performed on an outpatient basis under anesthesia. Your doctor will make three small incisions in the knee and then insert the arthroscope, which is a thin tube with a camera and light attached. Your doctor can then insert surgical instruments and repair your meniscus with either sutures or anchors to hold it in place. After the meniscus is repaired, they will place sutures to close your incisions.
With arthroscopic surgery, we can repair the meniscus through smaller incisions, so you have minimal scarring.
Recovery from Arthroscopic Surgery
Most patients can return home within a few hours of surgery. Your doctor will provide you with detailed instructions regarding your post-operative care. We may require that you immobilize your knee for up to two weeks to ensure proper healing. Physical therapy is also necessary to rehabilitate your knee and regain full function. While you may begin walking within just a few weeks after surgery, more intensive activities such as running are not recommended for a couple months or more.
It is important to keep in mind that your individual recovery timeline will vary depending on several circumstances. One of the main factors that will affect your recovery is the extent of the tear your meniscus suffered. More severe tears require more extensive surgical repair and may lengthen your recovery period. Your recovery will also depend on the state of your own health. Older patients or those who suffer from a compromised immune system will likely take longer to recover.
Repair Your Injuries
If you are suffering from knee pain, contact our office today to schedule an appointment. We can evaluate your knee to determine if a tear has occurred and develop an appropriate treatment plan to relieve your discomfort.