When Is Surgery Your Best Option for a Meniscus Tear?

When Is Surgery Your Best Option for a Meniscus Tear?

As knee pain specialists, we see plenty of meniscus tears at 360 Orthopedics. These cartilage cushions in the knees are one of the most common places for a knee injury to occur. Depending on the severity of your injury, some rest and conservative care may be all you need to heal. In other cases though, surgical intervention may be needed. 

When is surgery your best option for a meniscus tear? Fortunately, it’s not usually a decision you need to make under pressure at the time of injury. Treatment usually starts with conservative care and moves on only when you fail to experience substantial relief and overall improvement. 

Anatomy of the knee

Each knee has two pieces of C-shaped cartilage that sit between the bones of your thigh and shin, behind the kneecap. These menisci are wedge-shaped and act as a transition for loads transferred from your feet to your body, as well as helping to keep the knee joint stable.

Damaging a meniscus

There are two ways that meniscus tissue becomes torn. Trauma injuries typically stem from twisting motions of the knee while it’s under maximum load, such as working under exertion or heavy lifting. Meniscus tears are also common sports injuries. Often, a popping sound or sensation accompanies the injury. 

Meniscus cartilage can also suffer from degenerative wear and tear, commonly called osteoarthritis. Rather than a sudden, sharp injury, degenerative tears appear more as fraying along the thin edge of an affected meniscus. 

Home care for meniscus tears

Unless there’s reason to suspect severe damage in the knee, treatment usually starts with conservative care, unless your knee is very painful and prone to locking up. Usually, care starts with rest. Avoid not only the activity or job you were doing at the time of the injury, but any other movement or weight bearing that causes discomfort or pain. Resting with your weight off the injured knee is usually a good idea in the early stages after knee pain flares up. 

Use a cold pack in 15-minute bursts every four to six hours in the first two days and then as needed after that. The cold pack helps to minimize inflammation of the knee while also reducing pain related to swelling. Over-the-counter pain relievers can keep you comfortable, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and naproxen help to reduce swelling as well. 

With home care, you should begin to feel improvements in mobility and visible inflammation while pain starts to ease. If there’s no improvement in pain or your knee continues to lock, it’s time to visit us at 360 Orthopedics. 

Surgery for meniscus tears

The first step toward surgery requires an accurate diagnosis of your condition. This could include imaging tests like X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans as well as a review of your symptoms and an exam to evaluate knee function. We may recommend physical therapy at this point, before recommending surgery. 

Arthroscopy is a powerful diagnostic tool that allows our surgeons a view of meniscus damage through a camera that requires only a small incision near the knee. They can also repair some damage through this or another small keyhole incision using tools designed for this application. In some cases, repairs are done at the time of diagnosis. Arthroscopic surgery is usually easy to recover from since it damages little healthy tissue around the knee. 

The specifics of your case depend on your injury and the level of damage. With three locations in Sarasota, Venice, and Lakewood Ranch, Florida, 360 Orthopedics is conveniently located to help you. Call or click to schedule your consultation today. 

You Might Also Enjoy...

The Link Between Neck Pain and Headaches

Is your neck pain causing your headache? Or is it your headache causing problems in your neck? There’s no easy answer since it could be either of these, or it might also be two separate issues.
 3 Ways PRP Therapy Can Help Relieve Shoulder Pain

 3 Ways PRP Therapy Can Help Relieve Shoulder Pain

The shoulder is the most flexible joint in the body and one of the most complex. The bones, muscles, and other support tissues give these joints amazing mobility and strength, though they can often prove difficult to treat when things go wrong.
 Eat This Not That: Pain Management Edition

Eat This Not That: Pain Management Edition

When you suffer from chronic pain, everything you can do to help ease pain is welcome. This can even extend to the foods you eat. Consider this your Eat This, Not That, Pain Management Edition

Your Ultimate Guide to Rehabbing a Strained Muscle

Muscle strains range from minor overstretching to partial or full tearing of tissue. Your rehab period depends on the extent of your injury. Here’s what you can expect for the most common strained muscle injuries.
3 Ways to Keep Your Kid's Cast Clean

3 Ways to Keep Your Kid's Cast Clean

Casts are a necessary treatment device when your child has a broken bone or other condition that requires immobilization of a body part to aid healing. Kids being kids, it’s sometimes a challenge to keep the cast clean.
Daily Stretches to Do If You Have Chronic Pain

Daily Stretches to Do If You Have Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can be a complex medical issue. Sometimes it stems from degenerative diseases like arthritis while other times it’s a result of malfunctioning nerves. In most cases, stretching and physical activity can help you cope.