A woman in a park doing a squat

Preparing for Meniscus Tear Surgery and Recovery

A woman in a park doing a squat

The menisci are C-shaped discs of cartilage that connect the thighbones to the shinbones in each leg. Because they work as shock absorbers for these bones, they can be torn when the leg is twisted too hard in either direction, which often occurs while participating in contact sports. For those who require surgery on their meniscus, familiarity with the procedure and recovery process can aid rehabilitation.

Types of Meniscus Surgery

There are three main types of meniscus tear surgery that will be selected by a physician depending on the location and severity of the tear. For arthroscopic repairs, doctors insert an arthroscope into the meniscus tear to view the affected area. They will then stitch the meniscus together, and over time the body will absorb the dart-like materials used to heal the cartilage. During an arthroscopic partial meniscectomy, doctors remove a piece of the torn meniscus; for the most severe tears, doctors will perform an arthroscopic total meniscectomy, in which the entire meniscus is removed.

What to Expect During Meniscus Repair Surgery

On average, meniscus tear surgery takes about one hour. Because only 10% of meniscus tears can be repaired via arthroscopic repair surgery, the majority of procedures performed involve partial or total meniscus removal. Patients will be anesthetized during their procedure.

Immediate Meniscus Repair Recovery

While preparing for the visit, patients should bring crutches to the surgery for walking afterward and should wear non-constricting pants that can fit over post-surgical dressing. Additionally, they should arrange for a driver to bring them home after the procedure. Some patients may need to be kept in the hospital overnight, though most will be discharged sooner. Patients should apply an ice pack to the knee to prevent swelling and pain after the procedure and leave the bandage in place.

Long-Term Meniscus Repair Recovery

At any point during recovery, an elevated body temperature above 101 degrees, difficulty breathing, calf pain while flexing, excessive swelling, or foul-smelling drainage can indicate that patients should reach out to their orthopedic surgeon. During this time, the knee should be elevated while resting, and the patient should use crutches to walk to prevent unnecessary strain on the knee. The length of recovery depends on the patient, surgery type, and severity of the tear, but it’s safe to expect at least one to two weeks of downtime.

Meniscus tear surgery is a common and safe procedure that can greatly reduce pain for those with small or large tears. For more information about the preparation, recovery, or procedure, learn more by calling K. Mathew Warnock, MD at 281-807-4380 today.

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