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Tears to the meniscus are among the most common injuries to the knee joint. While athletes are particularly at risk of tears to the meniscus, anyone can experience a tear in this tissue of the knee whether exercising or performing any physical task.

What is the Meniscus?

The meniscus consists of two C-shaped pieces of cartilage inside the knee joint. These pieces of cartilage serve as a cushion between the femur and tibia bones, absorbing impact and distributing the force of our actions on the joint.


How do Meniscus Tears Happen?

Meniscus tears often occur during motions that cause impact on the body such as attempting to rotate the knee of a weight-bearing leg, running, or jumping, but can also occur during lower impact activities such as yoga as well. Age is a contributing factor in many meniscus tears. As our bodies age, our connective tissue loses elasticity and volume, weakening the meniscus. It is not uncommon to see meniscus injuries in older adults as a result of everyday activities.

Meniscus tears range in severity from mild to severe. Symptoms of a torn meniscus include swelling, buckling of the knee, locking which causes difficulty attempting to bend the knee, and severe pain. If the injury is minor, it is possible that healing may be achieved through a combination of rest and physical therapy. With more severe injuries, however, surgery may be required to repair the torn meniscus.


Non-Surgical Treatment of Meniscus Injuries

Not all meniscus injuries will require surgery. The outer edge of the meniscus received a rich blood supply from the body, giving it a greater chance of successful healing than areas of the meniscus. If you are able to keep the knee stable and prevent it from further injury, nonsurgical treatment of meniscus tears can be quite successful.

The best method for at-home treatment of meniscus tears involves the R.I.C.E. method.

  • Rest. Discontinuing the activity during which you injured your knee will allow your knee the time it needs to heal. The best way you can promote healing in your body is to rest and give it time to repair the torn meniscus.
  • Ice. Applying ice to the affected area for a period of 20 minutes several times a day can help to keep swelling at bay. Be careful not to apply ice directly to the skin.
  • Compression. Wrapping the knee in a manner that compresses the area will encourage your body to keep swelling to a minimum and stabilizes the injured area.
  • Elevation. In order to reduce swelling, keeping the knee elevated over the heart will reduce blood flow to the area while you rest.

If you think you have a torn meniscus, it is important that you visit your doctor to ensure that your injury isn't something more severe. Once you have been given an accurate diagnosis, your doctor will inform you if non-surgical treatment options will be effective in restoring your torn meniscus.


Meniscus Repair Surgery

Traditional surgical options for a torn meniscus include repair of the meniscus itself or removal of the section of the meniscus which is torn, also referred to as a meniscectomy. Meniscectomies may be either full or partial, depending on the severity of your injury.

  • Meniscus repair. Meniscus repair surgery is performed arthroscopically through small incisions around the knee which allow a very small camera to be inserted into the knee joint. Your Nanoknee Orthopedic surgeon in Los Angeles will then be able to see the anatomy of the knee entirely and repair the torn meniscus using small stitches. Your body will absorb these stitches over time as the meniscus heals and restores.
  • Partial meniscectomy. If the tear in your meniscus is severe enough, it may require that the torn part of the meniscus is removed rather than attempting to repair it, allowing your knee to once again function normally.
  • Full meniscectomy. Some meniscus injuries are severe enough that your surgeon will choose to remove the torn meniscus entirely.

Recovery following Meniscus Repair Surgery

Meniscus repair surgery is fairly low-risk and has few complications. It is an outpatient procedure, allowing you to return home as soon as the procedure is complete.

You may be required to wear a brace to stabilize your knee joint following meniscus repair surgery in order to allow the area to heal properly. Some patients use crutches to aid in mobility for the first month, allowing you to keep your weight off the knee joint in order for it to continue to repair itself.

It is possible that your surgeon will recommend physical therapy during your recovery. These exercises will allow the muscles surrounding the knee joint to get stronger, restoring the mobility and strength. Total rehabilitation time for meniscus repair is generally about 3 months, while recovery time for a meniscectomy is closer to 3-4 weeks.


Repairing the Meniscus with the Nanoknee System

The Nanoknee system is a state-of-the-art surgical technique that allows patients to reclaim their lives faster than traditional surgical procedures. With no painful recovery, no hospital stay, and often no physical therapy needed, patients are able to get back to their daily activities more quickly, so they can get the most out of life. If you would like to learn more about the Nanoknee system and how it can be beneficial treatment for your torn meniscus, our surgical staff is ready and willing to help you get back to a pain-free life.

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