Things to Know About Meniscus Repair

The function of the meniscus is to provide stability and act as a cushion for our knee joint. It helps to ensure that weight distribution is spread out evenly throughout the knee joint and prevent any joint problems like arthritis. However, injury to the meniscus is extremely common among people below the age of 25 years who are active in sports. Once a diagnosis of a torn meniscus is made, a decision needs to be made fast regarding the treatment. Usually, the doctor will suggest the treatment he thinks is most suited for you depending on your age, level of activeness and extent of injury.

How is the surgery performed?

One of the first few questions will be how is the surgery conducted. With advances in medical technology, meniscus repair can and will be done through a minimal invasion technique called arthroscopy. More common, suturing will be done to rejoin the torn parts of the meniscus with each other in order to regain function.

What is the success rate?

Success rate of meniscus repair is not 100%. It is mostly dependent on the exact location of the meniscus tear as well as post-surgery therapy. Firstly, if the meniscus is torn at the centre part of the cartilage, surgery will not be able to help at all in healing the meniscus. However, it may help to prevent arthritis in the later part of your life. Secondly, even if the surgery is a success, the post-surgery therapy plays an important role too. A proper structured and disciplined post-surgery therapy must be carried out in order to strengthen and regain the full function of the meniscus.

How is the post-surgery recovery like?

After operation, using of crutches can be from 3 to 14 days depending on the comfort of the patients, and some may prefer not to use crutches at all. Physiotherapy after the surgery will be helpful as well, in accordance to the progress. Any exercises that places tremendous stress onto your meniscus will be strictly disallowed. Examples of these exercises include running, jogging, skipping and squatting. A proper recovery plan will be planned by your physical therapist and you will need to adhere to it strictly as any deviation from it will disrupt the proper recovery procedure and may even require a second surgery.

What are the risks from meniscus repair surgery?

Meniscus repair is a low risk surgery but some there are still some risk associated with it. Infection may occur due to complications during the surgery or from existing personal problems such as diabetes. Since meniscus repair is done through arthroscopy, there is a risk of damage to the surrounding nerves and tissues. As much, you should always look for a reliable and skilled surgeon.

The role of the meniscus is important for our body and it is recommended to undergo meniscus repair surgery if you tear your meniscus. However, if you are not looking to lead an active lifestyle anymore, you may go for physical therapy to strengthen your muscles to compensate for the meniscus tear.

Types of Meniscal Repair for Tears & Injuries

The meniscus is a very important structure. It distributes our weight evenly across the knee joint and without it; the weight would be uneven and will lead to arthritis of our knee joint. Injuries to the meniscus are especially common in young patients who are athletically active below the age of 25 years, especially those who are involved in high pivoting sports such as soccer and basketball.

Treatment for meniscal tears would depend on the type of tear, how big it is and where is it at. If the tear is located at the outer edge, a meniscus repair surgery will be carried out as there is a rich supply of blood which will heal on its own after surgery. However if the tear is located at the central portion to the inner portion, meniscus repair will not be performed as the area lacks blood supply and without blood, there are no nutrients. As a result, the tears will not heal and are usually trimmed away during surgery.

Taking into consideration factors such as age, activity level and type of tear, the doctor is able to advise on the most appropriate form of treatment.

Non Surgical Treatment

If the size of the tear is small and is at the outer side of the meniscus, repair surgery is not required. If the knee is still stable, non surgical treatment is the best option.

RICE is the easiest and most effective treatment for most injuries.

Rest. Stop whatever activities you are doing immediately especially the one that caused the injury. Crutches may be used to relieve weight on the injured leg.

Ice. Usage of ice packs for 20 minutes a time throughout the day will relieve swelling and pain.

Compression. An elastic compression sleeve is worn to prevent blood loss and to decrease the swelling.

Elevation. Keeping the injured leg above the heart level when at rest reduces swelling.

Non steroid anti inflammatory medicine.

The doctor will also prescribe anti inflammatory medication such as aspirin and ibuprofen to reduce pain as well as swelling.

Surgical treatment

If non surgical treatment fails, arthroscopic surgery is the only way out. Knee arthroscopy surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgery in the world and small incisions will be made on the knee to place a miniature camera in it to allow a clear view of the insides. Small surgical instruments will be placed in the other incisions and the tear is either trimmed or repaired depending on the type of tear and the severity.

Meniscal tears are common knee injuries. With the proper care and treatment given, patients will have little problem returning back to pre-injury capabilities.