Treatment for a torn meniscus often begins conservatively. Your doctor may recommend:
- Rest. Avoid activities that aggravate your knee pain, especially any activity that might cause you to twist your knee. You might want to use crutches to take pressure off your knee and promote healing.
- Ice. Ice can reduce knee pain and swelling. Use a cold pack, a bag of frozen vegetables or a towel filled with ice cubes for about 15 minutes at a time. Do this every four to six hours the first day or two, and then as often as needed.
- Medication. Over-the-counter pain relievers also can help ease knee pain.
Physical therapy can help you strengthen the muscles around your knee and in your legs to help stabilize and support the knee joint. Arch supports or other shoe inserts can help to distribute force more evenly around your knee or decrease stress on certain areas of your knee.
If your knee remains painful, stiff or locked, your doctor may recommend surgery. It's sometimes possible to repair a torn meniscus. In other cases, the meniscus is trimmed. Surgery may be done through an arthroscope.
During arthroscopic surgery, your doctor inserts an instrument called an arthroscope through a tiny incision near your knee. The arthroscope contains a light and a small camera, which projects an enlarged image of the inside of your knee onto a monitor. Surgical instruments can be inserted through the arthroscope or through additional small incisions in your knee.
Recovery time following arthroscopic surgery tends to be much faster than it is for open-knee procedures. You can often go home the same day. Full recovery may take weeks or months, however, and you will need to do exercises to optimize knee strength and stability.
Feb. 10, 2011
- Miller RH, et al. Menisci. In: Canale ST, et al. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-03329-9..50046-5--cesec15&isbn=978-0-323-03329-9&sid=1090862192&type=bookPage§ionEid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-03329-9..50046-5--cesec18&uniqId=228828360-3#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-03329-9..50046-5--cesec18. Accessed Dec. 2, 2010.
- Meniscal tears. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00358. Accessed Dec. 2, 2010.
- Anderson BC. Meniscal injury of the knee. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 2, 2010.
- Knee arthroscopy. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00299. Accessed Dec. 2, 2010.