It is preferable to preserve as much of
the meniscus as possible. If the meniscus can be repaired successfully, saving
the injured meniscus by doing a meniscal repair reduces the occurrence of knee
joint degeneration compared with partial or total removal (meniscectomy).
Meniscus repair is more successful in younger people (experts think people
younger than about 40 years old do best), in knees that have good stability from the
ligaments, if the tear is in the red zone, and if the repair is done within the
first few weeks after the injury (acute).1
Meniscal repair may prevent degenerative changes in the knee joint. Many
doctors believe that a successful meniscus repair lowers the risk of
early-onset arthritis, because it reduces the stress put on the knee
Orthopedists most often perform meniscus surgery with
arthroscopy, a procedure used both to examine and then
to treat the inside of a joint by inserting a thin tube (arthroscope)
containing a camera and a light through small incisions near the joint.
Surgical instruments are inserted through other small incisions near the joint.
Some tears require open knee surgery.
- Meniscus Tear: Should I Have Surgery?
Rehabilitation (rehab) varies depending on the injury, the type of
surgery, your orthopedic surgeon's preference, and your age, health status, and
activities. Time periods vary, but in general meniscus
surgery is usually followed by a period of rest, walking, and selected
exercises. After you have full range of motion without pain and your knee
strength is back to normal, you can return to your previous activity
For some exercises you can do at home (with your doctor's
- Meniscus Tear: Rehabilitation Exercises.
Other knee injuries, most commonly to the anterior cruciate
ligament (ACL) and/or the medial collateral ligament, may occur
at the same time as a meniscus tear. In these cases, the treatment plan is
different. Typically, your orthopedist will treat your torn meniscus, if
needed, at the same time that ACL surgery is done. In this case, the ACL
rehab plan is followed.
Meniscal transplant is an experimental treatment
for meniscal tears. It might be a good option for a meniscus that is already
weakened or scarred due to previous injury or treatment. In this surgical
procedure, a piece of meniscus cartilage from a donor (allograft) is
transplanted into the knee.
To be eligible for meniscal
transplantation, a person:
- Should be younger than age
- Must be finished growing.
- Must not be obese.
- Has knee pain and swelling that has not responded
to other treatment.
- Must have no arthritis (or minimal arthritis) in the knee
- Must have a well-aligned knee, meaning the legs are not bent outward
at the knees (bowlegged) or bent inward at the knees (knock-kneed).