The meniscus is a rubbery ligament between the shinbone and the thighbone. Meniscus tear takes place when there is a solid contorting movement of the knee, especially when the knee is bent while the foot is firmly placed on the ground. It is one of the most common knee injuries among sportsperson who play football, cricket, and tennis, and people who perform high-impact activities.
A few people may suffer from meniscus tear due to ligament of knee degeneration that takes place with age due to several factors.
Pain, swelling and tightness may increase over several days if you have a meniscus tear. You may not be able to straighten your knee, and it may lock in position. It may be problematic for you to put weight on your leg or even walk normally like before.
Minor meniscus tears can heal by itself if there is a good blood supply to the area. However, some tears require arthroscopic surgery to fix the tear. It is important to rest and let the ligament heal. Ice packs and physical therapy helps with the recovery of a meniscus tear.
Only 10 percent of meniscus tears can heal by itself if there is an appropriate blood supply.
Most of the surgeries are arthroscopic surgeries in which a special device is used to view inside the knee and see the torn meniscus. There are different procedures, however, that can be conducted to repair or fix the meniscus and these include the following:
The steps in the procedure vary depending on whether the surgeon has advised arthroscopic removal or resection of meniscus or repair using a graft.
Arthroscopic surgery is a keyhole or minimally invasive surgery that involves 2 to 3 small incisions near the knee. An instrument called an arthroscope, which has a camera attached to its tip is inserted through one of the incisions to view the knee ligaments from the inside.
From another incision, the surgeon inserts the instruments used to resect to remove the damaged meniscus.
In many cases, meniscus reconstruction using a synthetic graft or a graft taken from the muscle of the patient is done. The graft is attached to the meniscus after removing the damaged part. This procedure is also performed arthroscopically nowadays.
Depending on the extent of the injury and whether other ligaments are also ruptured, the surgeon may decide to conduct the surgery traditionally rather than arthroscopically.
You can expect to wear a brace or cast to keep your knee stable. You will probably have to use crutches for at least a few weeks to keep weight off your knee.
The total duration of hospital stay is about 2 days. After that, you will have to attend physiotherapy sessions to maintain the movement and stability of the knee. The stitches removal takes place after 7 to 10 days of the procedure when the surgical site has healed.
The physiotherapy has to be continued until you return to the normal routine and activities. Usually, the patient is made to walk the very next day of the procedure with the help of support.
Local anesthetics are injected into the wound and knee joint at the time of surgery. This will wear off within 8 to 12 hours and it is not uncommon for patients to encounter more pain on the first or second day after surgery when swelling peaks.
Most patients will require some narcotic pain medication for a short time – this can be taken as per directions on the bottle.