Meniscus Tear & Surgery
The two wedge-shape cartilage pieces present between the thighbone and the shinbone are called meniscus. They stabilize the knee joint and act as “shock absorbers”. A meniscus tear is the most common knee injury in athletes, especially those involved in contact sports. A sudden bend or twist in your knee can cause the meniscus to tear, which is known as a traumatic meniscus tear. Elderly people are more prone to degenerative meniscal tears as the cartilage wears out and weakens with age.
A torn meniscus causes pain, swelling, stiffness, a catching or a locking sensation in your knee, making you unable to move your knee through its complete range of motion. Dr. Mark Adickes will examine your knee and evaluate your symptoms and medical history before suggesting a treatment plan. The treatment depends on the type, size and location of meniscus tear, as well your age and activity level. If the meniscus tear is small with damage in only the outer edge of the meniscus, nonsurgical treatment may be sufficient. However, if the symptoms do not resolve with nonsurgical treatment, meniscus surgery may be recommended.
A knee arthroscopy is the most commonly recommended surgical procedure for a meniscus tear. Other surgical treatment options include meniscus removal (meniscectomy), meniscus repair, and meniscus replacement. Surgery can be performed using arthroscopy where a tiny camera will be inserted through a small incision which enables the surgeon to view inside of your knee on a large screen. Surgery is then performed through other surrounding small incisions. During a meniscectomy, small instruments called shavers or scissors may be used to remove the torn meniscus. In an arthroscopic meniscus repair, the torn meniscus will be pinned or sutured depending on the extent of the meniscus tear.
Meniscus replacement or transplantation involves replacement of a torn cartilage with the cartilage obtained from a donor or a cultured patch obtained from laboratory. It is considered as a treatment option to relieve knee pain in patients who have undergone a meniscectomy.
Meniscus Tear & Meniscus Surgery FAQs
How Do I Know If I Have A Meniscus Tear?
There are two menisci in each knee, one on each side of the kneecap. These C-shaped pieces of cartilage provide cushioning between the thighbone and the shinbone. A sharp rotation of the knee could result in injury to one or more pieces of cartilage. Signs that you may have a torn meniscus include:
- Pain when you rotate the knee
- Stiffness and swelling
- A popping sensation
- Limited range of motion or “locking” of the knee
What Should I Expect From Meniscus Surgery?
- Arthroscopic repair involves small incisions in the knee and the insertion of a tiny tube called an arthroscope. Small surgical devices are placed along the tear to act as internal sutures. These devices absorb over time as the body naturally heals damaged cartilage.
- Arthroscopic partial meniscectomy may be performed to remove a portion of the torn meniscus and restore proper joint function.
- Arthroscopic total meniscectomy involves the removal of the entire damaged meniscus.
Comfort and joint function are expected to improve as a result of meniscus repair.