Meniscus Tear Treatment - Houston, Beaumont, Cypress
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 causes the meniscus to tear. This is a traumatic meniscus tear. Older adults are more prone to degenerative meniscal tears as the cartilage wears out and weakens with age. The two wedge-shaped cartilage pieces present between the thighbone and the shinbone are called menisci. They stabilize the knee joint and act as “shock absorbers.”
How to Know If You Have a Meniscus Tear in Your Knee
A torn meniscus causes pain, swelling, stiffness or a catching or locking sensation in your knee making you unable to move your knee through its complete range of motion. Your orthopedic surgeon will examine your knee, evaluate your symptoms and medical history before suggesting a treatment plan. The treatment depends on the type, size and location of the tear as well your age and activity level. If the tear is small with damage in only the outer edge of the meniscus, non-surgical treatment may be sufficient. However, if the symptoms do not resolve with non-surgical treatment, surgical treatment may be recommended.
Older individuals or those with more sedentary lifestyles sometimes opt for non-surgical treatment. The best way to keep your pain down during the initial periods of a meniscus tear in your knee is to use the RICE method. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Try to apply ice every three to four hours for 30 minutes in the first couple days following your meniscus tear. You can also wrap your knee in an elastic bandage while taking ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory medication that will reduce your swelling.
As mentioned earlier, a meniscal tear isn't always related to sports. People over 30 have an increased risk for tearing their meniscus from simple movements. This is because your meniscus gets weaker as you age. In these cases, surgery isn't always effective. If the cartilage in the knee is nonexistent, then your surgeon won't be able to repair what's left.
Torn Meniscus Surgery
Knee arthroscopy is the commonly recommended surgical procedure for meniscus tears. The 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 tiny incision which enables the surgeon to view the inside of your knee on a large screen and through other tiny incisions, surgery will be performed. During meniscectomy, small instruments called shavers or scissors might be used to remove the torn meniscus. During arthroscopic meniscus repair, the torn meniscus will be pinned or sutured depending on the extent of the tear.
Meniscus replacement or transplantation involves the replacement of a torn cartilage with the cartilage obtained from a donor or a cultured patch obtained from a laboratory. It is considered as a treatment option to relieve knee pain in patients who have undergone a meniscectomy. However, these surgeries are rarer since you have to meet specific guidelines to be considered eligible. Patients must be younger than 55 years old and physically active, have minimal or no knee arthritis and must be missing more than half of a meniscus or a tear that can't be repaired.
Recovering From Meniscus Tear Surgery
Patients who undergo a knee arthroscopy are usually able to go home that same day since it's considered an outpatient procedure. However, there is an entire process to recovery. After surgery, you have to remain in your brace at all times and use crutches whenever you're walking. Icing your knee for 20 minutes three times daily is an excellent way to decrease swelling and give you some pain relief, especially in the days following your surgery.
The most critical factor, for both non-surgical and surgical options, is to start physical therapy as soon as possible after surgery. We recommend beginning physical therapy before you see us for a follow-up. If you can't get in right away, there are some exercises you can do at home to strengthen your knee while you wait. Ankle pumps, prone hangs and quad sets are all great options to try at home while you're recovering from surgery.
Recovery from an arthroscopic meniscus repair typically takes up to six months. For the first six weeks, you'll work on strengthening your knee through physical therapy and wean off of your crutches as needed, also taking your brace off to sleep. In weeks six to twelve, you'll gradually focus on more strength exercises while unlocking your brace. The three to six-month mark is when patients can jog, return to sports and participate in agility exercises.
Contact Us Today
If you think you have a torn meniscus, don't wait to get it resolved. If you're in Houston, Beaumont or Cypress, call us or schedule an appointment today, so you can get back to your active and healthy lifestyle.
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