A torn meniscus may sound scary, but this knee injury is becoming increasingly common around the world: these days, up to 66 people in 100,000 will tear a meniscus per year. In some of these cases, surgery is needed to treat and repair the damaged structure.
If you’ve undergone or are planning to undergo meniscus surgery, it may take some time before you’re stretching your legs and moving with the same flexibility. We understand that taking time off after meniscus surgery can be frustrating. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to facilitate a successful and speedy recovery.
Meniscus surgery is used to treat a torn meniscus, either by removal or repair. The meniscus is a cartilage structure found in the knee – each knee has two of these C-shaped structures between the femur and tibia. They help to stabilize your knee and balance weight, while also providing shock absorption that protects cartilage in the knee joint. It plays a vital part in the health of your knees and helps to prevent arthritis in the long term.
Your menisci can be worn down over time or damaged by sudden twists or collisions. Older people and athletes are most likely to experience a torn or damaged meniscus – in fact, it can be a somewhat common occurrence as people age.
Surgery is not always needed for a torn meniscus – in some cases, it may be able to heal on its own. This depends on a variety of factors, including:
Meniscus surgery usually involves knee arthroscopy, a simple and minimally invasive procedure. An arthroscope is used to observe the tear so your surgeon can decide on the appropriate technique to perform: either meniscus repair or partial meniscectomy. The former involves the repair of torn cartilage, and the latter involves removing damaged cartilage so the healthy tissue can repair itself and take the place of the damaged cartilage.
Full rehabilitation is essential after meniscus surgery. The best way to ensure a smooth recovery is by following your doctor’s advice, and keeping these tips in mind when you get home.
Don’t Forget R.I.C.E
R.I.C.E stands for ‘rest, ice, compression, and elevation.’ These are four of the most important ways you can facilitate post-surgery recovery at home. Here are the four R.I.C.E guidelines for recovery after meniscus surgery:
An essential component of the recovery process is meeting with a physical therapist who will give you an exercise plan. These approved exercises will help immensely in restoring your knee’s strength, movement, and flexibility – if you’re serious about getting back on your feet as soon as possible, follow your physical therapist’s directions carefully.
Attend All Of Your Follow Up Appointments
After meniscus surgery, your doctor will want to check in on your progress semi-regularly. Full recovery can vary, and it will be up to your doctor to determine how you are recovering and when you can return to work/sports/regular activities. You won’t have an accurate idea of your own recovery timeline if you skip appointments.
Your doctors and physical therapists give you recommendations for a reason, so make sure to follow them. For example:
It’s vital to follow professional advice in the wake of a surgical procedure. How closely you follow this advice will dictate how quickly you recover.
Recovery time for meniscus surgery can vary from person to person. In most cases, meniscus repair will take longer to heal than a meniscectomy.
The road to recovery after meniscus surgery can be a long one, but if you follow the advice above (and the guidance of a medical professional), you can make the process much easier. If you have any further questions related to meniscus surgery or post-surgery care, schedule an appointment with our orthopedic surgeon today.