Surgery For Your Meniscus Tear

Meniscal repair surgery is sometimes necessary for people with meniscus tears. Meniscus tears can respond well to conservative treatment like the RICE method and medication. However, if these methods fail, surgery can help. Meniscal repair involves stitching or removing part of the damaged cartilage in the knee. Surgeons often use minimally invasive surgery to repair the meniscus. Minimally invasive surgery uses an arthroscope and small incisions to complete the procedure. Despite these benefits, patients still need extensive physical therapy.

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Understanding your meniscus

The menisci are two tough, c-shaped pieces of cartilage located in the knee. The cartilage sits opposite each other on top of the shinbone, primarily for shock absorption. A sudden twist or blow to the knee can cause a torn meniscus, particularly in sports. Sometimes, the wear and tear of the cartilage can lead to tears. Knee pain, swelling, and instability are some of the common symptoms. Furthermore, pieces of cartilage can catch in the knee when moving, causing further discomfort. Surgical treatment is just the start of a lengthy recovery process.

Managing pain and starting therapy

Immediately after surgery, patients will experience pain and swelling in the knee. Using ice or cold therapy hourly can help with pain and swelling. The surgeon will also prescribe pain medication. Pain medication helps during the first 2 weeks of recovery. Along with proper wound care, these steps help avoid infections. Patients are also on crutches or a knee brace for at least 4 weeks. Physical therapy starts using passive exercises like leg raises and quadricep isometrics.

Ramping things up

Formal physical therapy continues and increases with intensity over time. The goal is to increase the range of motion between weeks 2-6. Physical therapists will help patients perform ankle pumps, heel raises, and hamstring curls. Core exercises strengthen the upper body to support the knee further. During this time, the knee will be in a brace or crutches unless performing exercises. Some of these exercises can be performed at home.

The end of the road

From weeks 6-12, patients can perform exercises that improve range of motion. At the 12-week mark, patients should walk unassisted and return to daily activities. Exercises like squats, lunges, and step-ups strengthen the lower back and legs. With consistent work, most patients see results and experience minimal pain. Athletes need further strength and conditioning to return to sports. Knee pain is a common part of the recovery process. The right physical therapy program can reduce pain and help patients to move freely.

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