FAQs About Orthopedic Surgery For A Torn Meniscus In Your Knee

The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in your knee. Its purpose is to absorb shock and reduce friction between the two key bones that form your knee. Unfortunately, the meniscus can sometimes tear. This often happens as a result of an athletic injury. When a meniscus does tear, the best solution is usually to have it surgically repaired. This is a surgery that is carried out by orthopedic surgeons — often those who specialize in operating on the joints of the lower limbs. Here are a few questions you might have if you are considering orthopedic surgery for your meniscus, or if you have already scheduled it.

Where will the incision be?

These days, orthopedic surgeons usually operate on the knees using arthroscopic procedures. This means they make two or three small incisions in the knee and insert tiny tools through those incisions, as opposed to making one big incision and fully opening up your knee. Usually, you will have one small incision on the inside of your knee and another towards the outside of the knee. Occasionally there may be a third small incision directly below the knee.

What will the surgeon actually do?

While you might expect the surgeon to stitch up the meniscus, this is not typically the approach they take. Rather, they tend to remove any flaps of cartilage that are rubbing on and irritating your knee. They may even remove the entire meniscus. While this can lead to some eventual arthritis in the knee, it does tend to be the best approach since the meniscus does not tend to heal well, even if stitched. 

What will the recovery period be like?

The recovery period after meniscus surgery does not tend to be overly long or painful in comparison to other orthopedic surgeries, such as ACL repair. You'll likely have to stay off of your knee for a few days to a week. Then, you will work with a physical therapist to gradually start loading the knee more and more. This will include some stretches and strengthening exercises. Your surgeon will likely have you wear a knee brace for a few weeks, and they'll probably prescribe pain relievers for you to use, as needed. 

If you have a torn meniscus, don't hesitate to schedule surgery with an orthopedic specialist. This injury rarely heals on its own, and surgery presents the best chance of recovery in most cases. For more information, contact an orthopedic surgeon near you.