A torn meniscus can lead to knee pain that makes it difficult to work or resume playing sports. The meniscus is the cartilage in your knee that acts as a shock absorber and makes it possible for the bones in your knee to glide over each other without pain. The cartilage also helps keep your knee stable to prevent additional injuries. Here is how a meniscus injury can happen and why surgery is sometimes needed.
What Causes a Torn Meniscus
A torn meniscus is a common sports injury that happens when the knee is twisted suddenly. However, you do not have to be an athlete to injure your knee like this. Lifting something heavy or twisting your knee when you slide on a rock can also cause damage to the knee cartilage. The older you get, the weaker your knees get, and the higher your risk of tearing the cartilage in your knee. When you have this injury, you will have knee pain and stiffness.
How Surgery Can Help
Surgery is not always needed. If you go to your family doctor, you might be instructed to take an anti-inflammatory medication, use ice on your knee, and keep your knee elevated. Your doctor may even wrap your knee in an elastic bandage to keep it stable while healing. If your injury is minor, your knee may recover fairly quickly with this type of treatment, but if your pain persists or gets worse, your doctor may send you to a knee surgery specialist.
Surgery can help the knee pain when the surgeon stitches the cartilage back together or removes the damaged part. The surgery to do this usually begins with an arthroscopy. This involves making a small incision in your knee to insert a scope. Your doctor can visualize the cartilage inside your knee on a monitor to see the nature of the injury. Once the injury is observed, the doctor decides on the repairs necessary such as a repair or removal of the cartilage. The knee surgeon may remove part of the cartilage or all of it.
When the procedure is over, your knee is wrapped in a bandage and once you are alert and recovered, you can usually go home the same day. However, it will probably take a few weeks until your knee has recovered from the surgery, and during that time you will probably undergo physical therapy to strengthen your knee muscles and promote proper healing.
You may have pain and discomfort from the surgery, and your doctor may prescribe pain medication for you to take. You may be instructed to keep your knee elevated and put ice on it. You should not bear weight on your knee until your doctor says it is okay. You will need to arrange for crutches or some other mobility aid before you have your surgery so you can use them to get home after your procedure.