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Should I have arthroscopic surgery on my knee to treat my meniscus tear?

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Arthroscopic surgery to treat a torn meniscus when the rest of the knee is normal can help to reduce the pain induced by the meniscus tear. Patients with arthritis, thinning of the cartilage, will often experience degenerative meniscal tears. Arthroscopic surgery for treatment of degenerative meniscus tears is less predictable.

Do all meniscus tears need surgery?

Meniscal tears often lead to pain and dysfunction associated with activity. Mechanical symptoms including locking or catching of the knee can significantly limit desired activity. The decision to perform surgery should not be based on the presence or absence of a tear, but should be based on the severity of symptoms and the level of dysfunction.

What is the success rate of arthroscopic knee surgery?

Arthroscopic meniscus surgery is generally associated with good outcomes and relief of pain. Surgery done for the right reasons results in very high rates of success and patient satisfaction.

How long does it take to recover from surgery?

Recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery can range from two weeks to a few months. This is highly dependent on the type of meniscus surgery performed. Most commonly, part of the meniscus is removed; this is called a partial meniscectomy. Occasionally, depending on the tear pattern and type, a repair of the meniscus tear would be performed. This can lead to a longer recovery to allow for the meniscus to heal. Commonly, a period of physical therapy is prescribed following surgery.

Can I walk right after arthroscopic knee surgery?

After arthroscopic partial meniscectomy (taking out or cleaning up part of the torn meniscus), you are allowed to bear weight immediately following surgery. This limitation is based upon pain levels. With meniscus repair surgery, a period of non weight-bearing for six weeks might be necessary.

What happens if part of my meniscus is removed?

The meniscus functions as a shock absorber to protect the cartilage within your knee. If your meniscus is severely damaged or part of it is removed, this can increase the load placed on the cartilage. Over time, this can lead to wear on the cartilage and development of osteoarthritis. This is why it is important to consider meniscal repair surgery in some patients and tear patterns.

How do I know what surgery is right for me?

Ultimately, the decision is up to your surgeon. Multiple factors go into determining if a partial meniscectomy or meniscus repair is right for you. These factors are type of meniscus tear, presence of arthritis or cartilage wear, age, and activity level. Oftentimes, we are not sure if a meniscus is repairable until time of surgery. Therefore, it is important to have a pre-surgical conversation with your surgeon regarding this possibility and the recovery associated.