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How do I Choose the Best Torn Meniscus Treatment?

By Jami Yontz
Updated May 17, 2024
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The medial and lateral menisci are cartilage discs that provide shock absorption between the tibia and femur. Torn meniscus treatment is performed to reduce pain and inflammation and increase stability. The main types of torn meniscus treatment are medications and therapy, arthroscopic meniscectomy, meniscus repair surgery, or meniscus transplantation. An orthopedic surgeon or other qualified physician will be able to examine the severity of injury and other related conditions, such as osteoarthritis, and he or she will recommend the best torn meniscus treatment for the individual.

If the tear occurs on the outer edges of the meniscus cartilage, a physician will most likely recommend non-invasive therapy treatments. More severe tears cannot be healed through therapy. Icing, elevating the leg, and taking anti-inflammatory medications will help to reduce inflammation. Wearing a knee brace and resting the leg will allow the tear time to heal and provide stability to the joint. Physical therapy is usually required to strengthen the surrounding muscles of the knee to prevent a repeat injury.

Arthroscopic meniscectomy is a popular torn meniscus treatment option for people with this injury, as the surgeon only makes small, 1 centimeter (about 0.39 inch) incisions through which he will insert a camera and surgical instruments. The meniscus and surrounding bones are visualized on a screen in the operating room, and the physician removes the torn pieces of cartilage. This type of surgery only requires a few days of recovery, and the patient can usually return to his or her normal activities within two months.

A meniscus repair surgery is performed if large pieces of the cartilage have been removed during an arthroscopic meniscectomy. Repairs can only be performed if the tear is on the outer rim of the c-shaped meniscus where there is a viable blood supply. During this type of surgery, a large incision is made and the knee is opened to allow the surgeon to visualize the tear. Using sutures or other materials, the physician will reconnect the torn edges of the meniscus.

Meniscus transplants are performed on patients who have had a previous meniscus surgery where a large portion of the meniscus or the entire cartilage pad was removed because of the severity of the injury. Many times, the remaining portions of cartilage in the knee begin to wear down, causing pain, inflammation, and arthritis. A meniscus transplant takes cartilage from a cadaver and attaches it to the shinbone. Recovery time for a transplant is usually three months or more, and the person will have to use crutches for up to six weeks after the surgery is performed.

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