Key Factors That Impact Meniscal Tear Recovery After Surgery
Meniscal tears are one of the most common knee injuries, especially among athletes. While not all meniscal tears require surgery, several factors play a role in deciding what treatment is most appropriate, including both the kind of tear you have and its location. Some tears that are small, stable, and have a good blood supply may heal with physical therapy and rest. In other cases, surgery may be your best option to ensure proper recovery and a return to normal function and activities.
In this blog, the fellowship-trained knee specialists at NY Orthopedics’ Knee Center will address what a meniscus tear is and explain the key factors impacting your recovery in the days and weeks following surgery to repair this type of injury.
What Causes a Meniscus Tear & How is it Treated?
The menisci are two tough, C-shaped pads of cartilage that sit between your thigh and shin bones at your knee – one on the inner side of your knee and one at the outer side. They act as a sort of shock absorber to distribute forces across the knee. They also help to stabilize the joints, reduce the stress on your knees, and to protect the smooth ends of the bones from damage.
Meniscus tears usually occur when you twist your knee or turn quickly with your foot planted and your knee bent. In younger patients, the menisci are especially tough and rubbery, and tears are usually the result of strenuous activity. However, as you age, your menisci become thin and worn, making them more prone to tearing.
The meniscus can tear in many different ways. Depending on how the meniscus tears, your surgeon may elect to either remove a small portion of the torn meniscus or perform a meniscal repair. These surgeries are performed arthroscopically—through small incisions, with the aid of a camera—and generally involve either trimming away the damaged part of the meniscus or repairing the damaged tissue with sutures.
Key Factors That Impact Meniscal Tear Recovery
There are numerous elements that impact how long a meniscal tear recovery will take. Key factors include:
- Your age -The older you are, the longer your recovery is likely to take. Conversely, most young, healthy patients will experience a more rapid recovery.
- Your weight – Extra weight usually means a longer recovery time, and the more weight you’re carrying, the longer your recovery is likely to take.
- Your activity demands – Although you’re encouraged to get up and move about after surgery, if you’re normally extremely active you may need to scale your activity level back to ensure proper healing. However, healing time may be faster for those who were active before the injury compared to those who were more sedentary.
- Whether you have arthritis in your knee - If knee arthritis is present in your injured knee, this typically means a lengthier recovery time.
- The type of surgery you undergo - The type of surgery you undergo will also impact meniscal tear recovery. Surgery that simply removes the damaged portion of the meniscus generally means a shorter recovery time. If the surgery involves suturing the edges of the tear, more time is typically needed to allow the edges to heal together.
No matter what type of surgery you undergo, rehabilitation exercises are almost always recommended as part of your recovery. These may include exercises to improve or maintain the range of motion of your knee and to strengthen your leg muscles.
Get Your Questions About Meniscal Tear Recovery Answered By the Experts at NY Orthopedics
There are numerous factors that can impact meniscus tear recovery. Each person is different and while some patients may experience a full recovery within a few weeks after surgery, others will need several months to see the same results.
If you’ve experienced a meniscal tear, it doesn’t mean you have to give up your active lifestyle or live with chronic knee pain. Schedule an appointment with one of NY Orthopedics’ knee specialists to learn more about your treatment options and what recovery will entail in your individual case.