Meniscus surgery removes or fixes the cartilage between the bones in the knee. This cartilage is called the meniscus. Each knee has two of these rubbery pads of cartilage, one on either side. When a meniscus tears, your knee may be painful, swell, get stiff, or lock up.
Your doctor may use small tools to remove parts of the damaged meniscus and smooth the edges. This is called a partial meniscectomy (say "men-ih-SEK-tuh-mee"). In some cases, tears in the meniscus can be sewn back together. But if your meniscus can't be repaired, the doctor may remove the damaged part.
Meniscus surgery is usually done as arthroscopic surgery. Your doctor uses a lighted tube called an arthroscope, or scope. He or she puts the scope and other surgical tools through small cuts in your knee. These cuts are called incisions. They leave scars that usually fade with time.
The surgery will take at least 1 hour. Most people go home the same day of the surgery. You may have to use crutches after surgery. If so, be sure you have a backpack or clothes with a lot of pockets to carry items.
How soon you can go back to work and your normal routine depends on your job and the type of surgery you had. If you sit at work, you may be able to go back in 1 to 2 weeks. But if you are on your feet at work, it may take 4 to 6 weeks. If you are very physically active in your job, it may take 3 to 6 months.
You may need physical rehabilitation (rehab) after surgery. The program may last for several months. At first, your physiotherapist will work with you. Later, you will get exercises to do on your own. After surgery and rehab, you are likely to have less pain and more flexibility in your knee.
How soon you can return to sports or exercise depends on how well you follow your rehab program and how well your knee heals. If you had a partial meniscectomy, you might be able to play sports in about 1 to 2 months. If you had meniscus repair, it may be 3 to 6 months before you can play sports.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: November 29, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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