Do You Need a Meniscus Injury Surgery?
You might need meniscus surgery if you have severely torn your meniscus. A torn meniscus is a very common knee injury, which happens when you twist or rotate your knee, while putting your entire weight on it. Similar to ankle sprains, meniscus tears are given ratings or grades to classify how serious the injury is. For instance, if the meniscus tear is mild, which would be a Grade 1 or 2, you will most likely not need surgery. However, if your injury is more severe at a Grade 3 rating, then your doctor might discuss your surgery options.
Why Do People Need Meniscus Surgery?
As mentioned earlier, people need meniscus surgery to repair their torn meniscus that is too damaged to heal properly without surgery. So, how do you even know if you’ve torn your meniscus? Like how could it possibly have happened? Well, a torn meniscus can happen while doing any type of activity where you forcefully twist your knee. Basically, this aggressive pivot or sudden change in direction while bearing weight on your knee can seriously injure your knee. For example, people who participate in sports like football, soccer, or volleyball have a higher risk of injuring their meniscus. However, that is not the only cause. You can also tear your meniscus from running, squatting, kneeling, or lifting something extremely heavy.
Now that you know the common ways that a person might injure their meniscus, let’s look at what a torn meniscus might feel like. Initially, your pain might not feel too bad, some might even say it is manageable. However, as time goes on and you stay active with an injured knee, the inflammation will start to set in, making it extremely painful to even walk on it. Some symptoms of a torn meniscus include pain and swelling in the knee, a pop when you injured the knee, difficulty moving your leg, or a locking or sticking feeling in your knee. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, make sure to see your doctor right away.
At your doctor’s appointment, your doctor will be able to diagnose your knee injury through a physical exam and imaging tests like X-rays or MRI. Even though a torn meniscus is made up of cartilage, meaning it won’t show up on an X-ray, X-rays are still helpful in diagnosing your injury by ruling out other possible knee injuries. An MRI will give a very detailed image of your hard and soft tissue in your knee, making it the best test to detect a torn meniscus. Once your doctor has officially diagnosed you for a torn meniscus, they will most likely recommend non-surgical treatments first. However, if those treatments don’t work or your injury is too severe, you will require surgery.
How To Prepare for Surgery
Before going into surgery, there are some things that you should prepare or do ahead of time. Surgery can be stressful and you will still feel the effects of anesthesia and pain medications after surgery. That being said, you won’t really be able to make clear and big decisions after getting out of surgery. Here are some things that you should do before going into surgery:
- Have a friend or family member drive you home after surgery. After surgery, you will not be competent enough or in a condition that would allow you to safely drive yourself home.
- Tell your doctor about any medications that you might be taking, since they might interfere with surgery. For example, if you are taking aspirin or some other type of blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it prior to surgery. Most likely, they will tell you to stop taking those types of medications since they increase your risk of bleeding during surgery.
- Make sure that you follow all of the instructions that you are given for the day of or day before surgery. For instance, the directions will most likely say something about not eating or drinking anything for a certain amount of time before surgery. It is important that you follow these kinds of instructions because your surgery can actually be cancelled if you disobey them.
What Is Surgery Like?
Generally, there are three types of meniscus tear surgeries: arthroscopic repair, arthroscopic partial meniscectomy, and arthroscopic total meniscectomy. During arthroscopic repair surgery, your doctor will make tiny cuts in your knee to insert an arthroscope. By doing this, they have a better visual on how severe the tear is. Then, they’ll stitch up the tear. Overtime, your body will absorb the stitches. During arthroscopic partial meniscectomy, your doctor will get rid of a portion of the torn meniscus, allowing your knee to function properly again. During arthroscopic total meniscectomy, your doctor will get rid of the entire meniscus. If you are concerned about surgery, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions. In addition, typically, meniscus surgery is pretty low-risk, meaning that surgery complications are quite rare.
What Is The Recovery Process Like?
After surgery, you might have to wear a cast or brace and use crutches to support your knee. Basically, you want to keep weight off of your knee as you heal. In addition, you will want to attend physical therapy to help regain the range of motion and strength in your knee. If you had a partial or total meniscectomy, your recovery time will typically be around a month. On the other hand, if your entire meniscus was repaired, it can take up to 3 months to heal.
Meniscus Surgery at Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants
Here, at Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants, we realize how frustrating and painful an injury can be. That being said, we are here for you every step of the way, from when you are diagnosed to preparing for surgery to recovering after surgery.
If you are looking for someone to help you recover from meniscus surgery, contact us today!