Will My Meniscus Heal On Its Own
The meniscus has some blood vessels at the very outer edge . This blood supply slowly fades away once we are older than 30 years old. For tissues to heal when they are injured they need to have a blood supply. So, most meniscal injuries have limited healing potential unless they are at the very outer edge and the patient is less than 30 years old.
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
Your healthcare provider will tell you when to schedule an appointment for follow-up. But you should call if you develop:
- Fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lots of drainage on the dressing.
- Pain or swelling that is not relieved by resting or elevating the leg.
- Pus or foul-smelling drainage from any incisions.
- Trouble breathing.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Meniscus surgery can fix an injured or torn meniscus, a piece of cartilage in the knee joint. Talk to your healthcare professional if you have knee pain that interferes with your life, work or activities. An arthroscopic procedure can reduce pain, improve mobility and stability, and help you return to activities.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/17/2021.
One Super Important Fact:
Meniscus “Repair” Surgery almost always involves cutting away torn sections of the Meniscus. The name is misleading. Very seldom does Meniscus Repair Surgery actually repair or stitch back together your Meniscus. The procedure usually gets rid of the pain by getting rid of the tissue, not fixing the actual problem. Meniscus Surgery should really be a last resort.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Rid Of Dark Knees And Elbows
Can A Meniscus Tear Heal On Its Own
Yes, but heres the thing: A meniscus tear will heal only if the tear is located at the part of the meniscus with blood supply .
Luckily, only 19% of the meniscus tears happen in the part with no circulation , so most tears can heal naturally to some degree.
Degenerative meniscus tears also cant heal on their own.
For the types of tears that wont naturally heal, ask your doctor to provide medical advice.
How Does A Meniscus Get Injured
The meniscus is usually injured when someone has a bent knee and changes direction. Often the movement that injures the meniscus is no different to any number of movements you would make throughout a day such as rising out of a chair and pivoting.
It is rarer to have meniscal injuries when you are less than 30 years old as the meniscus is healthy and strong. As we age, meniscal tears ;become increasingly common as the meniscus wears down and erodes with time. For this reason, older people often dont notice a specific moment when they injure their meniscus as it usually just slowly fails and becomes frayed. Conversely, ;younger people do often report a specific incident where they hurt their knee as the force required to tear a young strong meniscus is much higher. In the older knee, meniscal tears are now being considered as part of osteoarthritis instead of a separate injury needing specific treatment.
SEEING A MENISCAL TEAR ON MRI DOES NOT CONFIRM THE MENISCUS AS THE SOURCE OF PAIN
Also Check: How To Stop Limping After Knee Surgery
What Can A Professional Do
Expert interview: Sports Physiotherapist Neal Reynolds explains knee cartilage injuries and treatment options.
- A professional therapist will undertake a thorough assessment and make an accurate diagnosis to confirm cartilage meniscus injury and they may undertake an MRI scan to determine the extent of the injury.
- Then the decision to treat it conservatively, meaning without surgery or whether to operate is made.
Less Swelling And Pain
The compression effect from the brace can help promote blood flow to and around the joint. This, then, helps reduce swelling and pain.
On the other hand, an unloader brace reduces pressure on your meniscus injury. This helps relieve symptoms and ease pain.
And with less pain, youre also more likely to adhere to your rehabilitation program!
Don’t Miss: How To Pop Your Knee
Medial Meniscus Tear Surgery
The decision of whether to operate will depend on a number of factors.
- A minor tear or small degenerative condition with no restriction of motion or locking will be treated conservatively or without surgery.
- More severe injuries may require surgical treatment.
Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr. Richard Villar explains meniscus tear surgery, surgical techniques and recovery times.
- An MRI scan is often used to confirm the diagnosis and then an arthroscopy performed to either repair or remove the torn cartilage.
- Repairing the cartilage is a good thing but the surgeon must be sure that its going to heal.
- Tears near to the blood supply on the outside of the cartilage are more likely to heal well.
- A tear in the body of the cartilage where the blood supply is less will not heal as well and so repairs are less likely to work and removing the torn cartilage is the better option. Removal is also more commonly performed in degenerative cases.
- After surgery treatment may vary depending on the symptoms and the surgeon. Crutches may be used to slow the patient down and ensure at least partial rest for the first few days.
Meniscus Tear Recovery After Arthroscopy
When Will My Knee Feel Better?
For several days after arthroscopy, patients will generally be asked to rest and elevate the joint while applying ice packs to minimize pain and swelling. After surgery, an exercise program is gradually started that strengthens the muscles surrounding the joint and prevents scarring of surrounding soft tissues. The goal is to recover stability, range of motion, and strength of the joint rapidly and safely, while preventing the build-up of scar tissue. This program is an essential part of the recovery process for an optimal outcome of this procedure.
Recommended Reading: How Long Is Knee Surgery
Meniscus Tear Recovery Time
The expected recovery time for each knee injury will depend on the patient and the severity of the injury. After arthroscopic meniscus surgery, most individuals should expect the rehabilitation process to last roughly three months. With meniscectomies specifically, patients should anticipate a flexible recovery timetable of about one month. During this time, your doctor will prescribe a series of postsurgical knee exercises to help increase knee flexibility and also strengthen the surrounding tissues. Once weve designed a regimen and meniscus tear recovery strategy for you, these exercises can be performed at home in your spare time to better accommodate your schedule and lifestyle.
Remember, we update our Sports Medicine Oregon blog monthly, so be sure to tune in often to stay up to date on the latest sports medicine news and views!
How Is A Torn Meniscus Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam. You may also need:
- X-ray. This test uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to make images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
- MRI. This test uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures within the body. It can often find damage or disease in a surrounding ligament, tendon, bone, or muscle.
- Arthroscopy. This is a minimally-invasive procedure used for conditions of a joint. It uses a small, lighted, optic tube . The tube is inserted into the joint through a small incision in the joint. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen. They are used to evaluate any degenerative or arthritic changes in the joint. The procedure also may detect bone diseases and tumors, as well as determine the cause of bone pain and inflammation.
Recommended Reading: How Much Is Total Knee Replacement Surgery
Here Are A Few Simple Tips You May Like To Try If You Suspect You Have A Torn Meniscus
These tips will depend on how long you have had the injury and how much swelling there is. We would always advise you seek expert help if you have any concerns or your pain and swelling gets worse:
- Try applying an ice compress e.g. small packet of frozen peas, wrapped in a towel, on your knee for 10 minutes. This will help to reduce inflammation and pain. DO monitor your skin as you can burn yourself with ice.
- If you have significant swelling, we would advise you get a simple neoprene knee brace or tubigrip. This will help reduce pain and swelling.
- Do not keep your knee in the same position for prolonged periods of time. If you sit at a desk all day make sure you regularly get up and move around. This will stop the knee stiffening up.
- Complete regular gentle knee stretches, within your available pain-free range. Make sure you are bending and straightening your knee. Keeping your knee still is generally not useful.
- Gentle quadriceps contractions will help to maintain some muscle strength. In sitting, slowly straighten your knee by squeezing your thigh. Complete the movement within your available pain-free range.
Introduction To The Knee
The knee is the largest joint in the body. The knee allows the leg to bend where the femur attaches to the tibia . The knee flexes and extends, allowing the body to perform many activities, from walking and running to climbing and squatting. There are a variety of structures that surround the knee and allow it to bend and that protect the knee joint from injury.
The quadriceps and hamstring muscles are responsible for moving the knee joint. When the quadriceps muscles contract, the knee extends or straightens. The hamstring muscles, located on the back of the thigh, are responsible for flexing or bending the knee. These muscles are also important in protecting the knee from being injured by acting to stabilize the knee and preventing it from being pushed in directions that it isn’t meant to go.
There are four ligaments that also stabilize the knee joint at rest and during movement: the medical and lateral collateral ligaments and the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments .
Cartilage within the joint provides the cushioning to protect the bones from the routine stresses of walking, running, and climbing. The medial and lateral meniscus are two thicker wedge-shaped pads of cartilage attached to top of the tibia , called the tibial plateau. Each meniscus is curved in a C-shape, with the front part of the cartilage called the anterior horn and the back part called the posterior horn.
Read Also: How To Relieve Knee Cap Pain
When Is Surgery Needed
Some meniscus tears require surgery to heal the meniscus and restore the knees range of motion. For example:
- A tear on the inner two-thirds of the meniscus that wont heal on its own because the area lacks blood flow to stimulate the immune system response.
- A tear that gives you a lot of pain or impairs use of your knee may require surgery to remove or repair the torn part of the meniscus.
- Complex tears usually require surgery to trim the damaged part of the meniscus.
Surgery may be a meniscus repair or a trimming of the meniscus tissue, which is called a partial meniscectomy. Note that meniscectomy may cause osteoarthritis in the long term.
Meniscus tear surgery is very common, with about
Its best to see a doctor as soon as possible:
- if you have sudden pain from a knee injury
- if you have trouble using your knee
- if your pain persists
Untreated meniscus tears can get worse, or pieces of the meniscus can shed into the joint. For an athlete, playing through knee pain can cause greater problems later.
A doctor can do physical and imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, to determine what kind of damage you have and discuss possible treatment options with you.
Also consult a doctor if you continue to have pain after a course of conservative treatment.
What Are Medial Meniscus Tears
Medial Meniscus Tears are common knee injuries. These commonly result when the knee is injured during blunt trauma but a sudden knee jerk or twist can result in just the same. Over exerting the knees during exercise can also cause tears in the meniscus.
In order to determine that a possible medial meniscus tear has occurred, a detailed history from the patient with a history of extensive use of the knees must be obtained. Most patients will complain of pain in the knees when they attempt to use the overworked knee.
A sensation of clicking, locking or unusual sensation of giving way affects the affected knee along with swelling. Certain medical manoeuvres can be performed to confirm the diagnosis. To supplement the diagnosis, radiologic examination may be performed on the affected knee.
X-rays, Computed Tomography scan and Magnetic Resonance Imaging can be done to assess the damage, but since medial meniscus are located well inside the knee joint, MRI has the best resolution and assessment capability of all the radiologic modalities.
Don’t Miss: How To Prevent Knee Pain In Old Age
What Does A Meniscus Tear Feel Like
Symptoms of a meniscus tear include:
- Pain in the knee
- A popping sensation during the injury
- Difficulty bending and straightening the leg
- A tendency for your knee to get “stuck” or lock up
At first, the pain may not be bad. You might even play through the injury. But once the inflammation sets in, your knee will probably hurt quite a bit.
To diagnose a meniscus tear, your doctor will give you a thorough exam. They will want to hear details about how you got your injury. X-rays may be necessary, to rule out broken bones and other problems. You may also need an MRI scan, which allows a more detailed evaluation of knee cartilage.
Treating A Meniscus Tear
Initially, you should treat the knee injury with conservative techniques that include rest, ice, compression, and elevation, or the RICE method:
- Rest your knee. Use crutches to avoid any weight bearing on the joint. Avoid any activities that worsen your knee pain.
- Ice your knee every three to four hours for 30 minutes.
- Compress or wrap the knee in an elastic bandage to reduce inflammation.
- Elevate your knee to reduce swelling.
You can also take medication such as ibuprofen , aspirin , or any other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and swelling around your knee.
You shouldnt put your full weight on your injured knee if its painful. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee.
Physical therapy can help reduce pain and increase your knee mobility and stability. Your physical therapist may also use massage techniques to reduce swelling and stiffness.
Read Also: Can Poor Circulation Cause Knee Pain
What Symptoms Does A Meniscal Tear Give You
- Usually people will develop pain on the side of their knee
- There may be an associated clicking/catching feeling
- The pain can come on suddenly with a specific movement but in older people the pain usually comes on slowly with time
- Some swelling of the knee may be present
- The pain is irritated by twisting movements and squatting down
- Major meniscal tears can lock your knee , these are known as bucket handle tears
How Does A Medial Meniscus Tear Happen
A medial meniscus tear can happen from many factors. First, a sporting injury can cause it. Medial meniscus tears commonly happen with an ACL tear. This is because the medial meniscus acts as a secondary stabilizer to prevent the knee from slipping forward, and when the ACL tear happens, it puts extra stress on the medial meniscus which leads to it tearing. In addition, deep squats put extra stress on the back of the knee and can cause a medial meniscus tear to occur. Other causes include twisting, turning, or pivoting type activities where extra stress is placed on the inside of the knee, whereby a medial meniscus tear can occur.
You May Like: When To Go To Er For Knee Pain
How Do You Tear The Meniscus
The meniscus is most commonly injured by a twisting or turning movement whilst your foot is planted on the floor. In a young sporty person this could be due to turning quickly when playing a game of football or a tackle during a rugby match.The effect of this twisting movement puts torsion throughout the meniscus and causes the fibres to tear. This results in an acute tear of the meniscus. Some people report they hear their knee click and feel pain immediately.
There are many different types of tears . The different tears can present with their own specific symptoms. For example, a bucket handle tear may cause locking of the knee. Locking is when the knee gets stuck in one position and you cannot move it. This is very painful and debilitating when it happens. Not everyone with this type of tear experiences this problem.
As we get older meniscal tears can occur with the same twisting mechanism but they can also occur due to seemingly innocuous movements such as misjudging a step or turning whilst walking. It is not unusual that there is no specific incident or trauma, before the knee becomes painful.
How Does It Get Injured
There are two ways that the knee meniscus can be damaged:
1) InjuryThe menisci are often injured when the knee twists suddenly e.g. when playing sports or during a fall. This tends to tear part of the cartilage and can cause bleeding in the joint resulting in;swelling
2) Wear and TearAs we age, our cartilage becomes more brittle and can start to wear away. This also makes them more prone to injury. This is a common feature of;arthritis
Meniscal tears;can occur in any part of the cartilage and can take a long time to recover from.; Small blood vessels feed the outer edges of the meniscus but the middle; parts have no direct supply which means it is very slow to heal following injury.
One of the most common signs of a meniscal tear is locking – where the knee gets stuck.; This happens which a flap of torn knee meniscus gets stuck in the joint block movement.; By wiggling your leg around, you can usually move the torn flap of meniscus out of the way, but the problem will keep occurring.; If this is the case, arthroscopic surgery will be advised to trim the flap.;
To find out more about knee cartilage injuries including the causes, symptoms and treatment options, visit the meniscal tear section.
Also Check: How To Relieve Pain From Twisted Knee