Treatment of a Meniscus Tear
The treatment for a meniscus tear, either a medial meniscus tear or a lateral meniscus tear, will depend on the size and location of the tear. The lateral (outside) portion has a rich blood supply and a tear is more likely to heal on its own. The medial (inside) portion lacks a good blood supply and cannot typically heal on its own.
For acute or chronic tears, a combination of rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy may be recommended by Dr. Verma. In addition, cortisone injections are often employed to decrease swelling and inflammation and improve symptoms.
For more severe tears, arthroscopic surgery may be recommended. During arthroscopy, two tiny incisions are made and a small camera is inserted so the injured area can be examined. After reviewing, torn pieces of the meniscus are repaired and/or removed. An arthroscopic approach is less invasive and allows for a quicker recovery time with less pain in most cases.
Based on the patients age, the size of the tear, the location of the tear, and the presence of other injuries, a decision is made as to whether the meniscus can be repaired (stitched) or should be debrided (torn portion is removed). When applicable, sutures can be used to stitch the meniscus to facilitate healing and preserve meniscal function. In this situation, the knee is protected and activities are restricted while the meniscus is healing over the first 12-16 weeks. In some cases however, the meniscus tear is degenerative, complex and non-repairable. In this situation, the torn portion of the meniscus is removed to provide stability to the remaining segment. In this case, patients may weight bear immediately, return to work or school within 1-2 days, and generally return to all activities including sports by 6-8 weeks.
For more information on repair and rehabilitation of a meniscus tear in the knee, please contact the office of Dr. Nikhil Verma, orthopedic knee specialist serving the Chicago, Westchester, Oak Brook and Hinsdale, Illinois area.