What is the Meniscus?
The meniscus is a crescent-shaped cushion of connective tissue between the bones in your knee. There are two menisci for each knee. They act as shock absorbers for your lower leg.
The outer part of the meniscus has a good blood supply and injuries can heal on their own or with surgery. There is no blood flow to the inner part of the meniscus, so injuries do not heal. Treatment or meniscus repair depends on the type of injury you have.
What causes meniscus tears?
Meniscus tears happen when you make a rotating movement such as twisting the upper leg when your foot is planted on the ground.
Symptoms of a torn meniscus include:
- Pain, especially when holding the knee straight
- Swelling and stiffness
- Knee may catch, click or lock
Specialists at Franciscan Health use diagnostic imaging procedures like MRI and X-ray to determine the type and extent of your injury.
How to Treat a Meniscus Tear
If icing, pain relief medication and strengthening exercise don’t resolve symptoms, you may need arthroscopic knee surgery. There are three types of meniscus surgery.
What to expect from meniscus surgery
- Meniscus repair surgery stitches the tear together
- Meniscus transplant surgery uses a meniscus from a cadaver donor
- Partial meniscectomy removes damaged meniscal tissue
Recovery time for meniscectomy is about four to six weeks. For meniscus repair surgery, recovery may take four to six months. For the first four to six weeks, you may wear a knee brace and use crutches. Keeping your knee immobile allows the transplanted meniscus to attach to the bone.
For any type of meniscus surgery, you will recover at home and may have rehabilitation and physical therapy at Franciscan Health to help you recover faster.