Meniscus tears are a common type of orthopedic knee injury. This injury can cause considerable pain and limitations in mobility. If you experience a meniscus tear, early intervention can prevent future problems with your knee. Here are 3 ways to treat a torn meniscus.
Rest and Recuperate
In some instances of a torn meniscus, the best approach is to simply rest and give the injury time to heal. During this time over-the-counter pain medications may help reduce pain and inflammation, or your doctor might prescribe a stronger anti-inflammatory medication. While you are healing, you will want to minimize the weight on your knee and keep your knee propped up when you are sitting or lying down. Elevation can reduce the amount of swelling you experience. You might also want to ice your knee if swelling is an issue. Wrapping your knee or using a knee sleeve may also help with pain and can give you some added support when standing or walking. If the tear is minor and affects the portion of the meniscus with a blood supply, the problem might heal on its own.
A meniscus repair involves a surgical procedure to join the ends of the tear and promote healing. This can be done on the portion of the meniscus that has a blood supply and is capable of eventually healing. The surgery is typically performed using an arthroscope and can be done on an outpatient basis. Your orthopedic surgeon will make small incision in the knee and insert a camera to look inside the joint and find the tear. Once the tear is found, sutures can be used to close the opening. Since the procedure is fairly simple, recovery is usually quick. You will likely need additional management through physical therapy to help with healing and mobility.
The damaged part of the meniscus might be removed if it was repaired previously but did not heal, or if the damaged meniscus is located in an area without a blood supply and will never heal. Removing the damaged area can reduce or eliminate the pain that occurs when the damaged area "catches" and makes your knee feel like it locks. Since the tattered tissue is removed, you should also experience better mobility in the joint, since there is nothing obstructing movement. Depending on the amount of tissue that needs to be removed, there may be additional problems with your knee in the future. The meniscus is simply another form of cartilage that helps cushion the knee from impact. With less cushion, it is possible to develop osteoarthritis later.
Depending on the location of a meniscus tear, the injury may eventually heal on its own or with the help of a repair. In the instance the tear is located in an area without a blood supply, removing the worn tissue is the best option for pain-free movement. For more information about meniscus treatment options, contact Omaha Orthopedic Clinic & Sports Medicine PC.