Meniscus Surgery – When and How to Recover
Time to read 8 min
Time to read 8 min
If you suffered a meniscus injury in your knee, your surgeon may have discussed the possibility of meniscectomy surgery.
During this procedure, a surgeon removes damaged cartilage from your knee. It is important to have a clear understanding of what to expect during the process and how your recovery may unfold.
In this article, we will provide a detailed explanation of a meniscectomy, also known as arthroscopic surgery, and explore the reasons behind your surgeon's recommendation of this procedure for you.
We will also look at the recovery timeline, along with any associated risks and costs that you should be aware of. Read on to find out what your recovery may look like!
Recognizing the need for a meniscectomy starts with understanding your injury. Each knee contains two menisci, composed of cartilage that cushions and stabilizes the knee joint.
Unfortunately, tears can occur in this cartilage due to certain types of accidents. Additionally, some age-related diseases can also cause damage to the meniscus, leading to meniscal tears.
These torn pieces of cartilage can cause knee pain, swelling, and joint locking, all of which can disrupt everyday life. When these symptoms disrupt daily life, a meniscectomy surgery becomes a viable solution.
Let's explore the key factors and situations that make meniscectomy surgery necessary:
The decision to undergo meniscectomy should be a collaborative process between the patient and a healthcare professional, typically an orthopedic surgeon.
Factors such as age, activity level, knee stability, overall health, and the specific characteristics of the meniscus injury play a crucial role in this decision.
Modern medical trends also lean towards preserving the meniscus as much as possible, given the increased risk of arthritis following meniscectomy.
You likely have never given your meniscus much thought until it becomes injured, and the prospect of using a knee brace or undergoing surgery becomes increasingly real.
Your meniscus is a disc-like structure that sits in your knee between your femur and the two bones in your lower leg.
It is made mostly of cartilage and supports your knee joint by allowing it to bend and straighten freely. It also acts as a shock absorber, protecting the underlying bones.
An arthroscopic partial meniscectomy, removes damaged portions of torn cartilage from the knee, often using arthroscopic knee surgery techniques.
Here's what you can expect from a meniscectomy:
Meniscus tear surgery recovery generally takes 4 to 5 weeks to make a full recovery. However, you are likely to regain a lot of function in the week or so following the surgery.
Here's what the general recovery timeline looks like:
|On the Day of Surgery
|First Week Post-Op
|2-3 Weeks Post-Op
|4-6 Weeks After Surgery
Partial meniscectomy recovery time varies from one person to another.
While any recovery period can be frustrating, there are a few things you can do to ensure you optimize your recovery.
Working with a physical therapist can be beneficial both before and after surgery, helping to improve recovery times.
Strengthening the muscles supporting the knee before the surgery can help remove pressure from the meniscus during recovery.
Engaging in physical therapy during your recovery can also expedite the restoration of your range of motion.
During recovery, it is crucial to take the prescribed amount of anti-inflammatories and pain meds.
Properly treating pain will help you regain confidence to keep your knee moving in the first week, which is essential in the recovery process.
Your body is an incredible machine, and in the first few weeks following your operation, it will work overtime to try to heal.
The best thing you can do during this time is to allow your body to heal by ensuring you get enough rest.
This includes maintaining a positive health status by sleeping for at least 8 hours a day, sustaining a balanced diet, and getting fresh air when possible.
The timeline for resuming athletic activities varies, depending on several factors including the type of surgery, the individual's healing process, and the physical impact of the sport.
Sports like swimming may only take a month or two to resume, while most other sports typically involve a recovery period of 3 to 6 months.
General Timeline for Returning to Sports
Low-Impact Sports - Activities like swimming may be resumed relatively quickly, often within a month or two post-surgery, as they place less stress on the knee.
Moderate to High-Impact Sports - For most other sports, especially those involving running, jumping, or contact, a recovery period of 3 to 6 months is typically recommended. This period allows enough time for the knee to heal and regain strength.
Key Considerations for a Safe Return
Like any surgery, there are some risks involved with meniscus tear surgery. Thankfully, since this is a relatively minor surgical procedure, the risks are minimal.
The risks that are involved usually center around general surgery risks and include:
The costs of a meniscectomy surgery vary greatly depending on the type of healthcare insurance you have and the state in which you are located. The average cost is around $18,000.
Costs potentially include:
If you decide that meniscus surgery is not for you, then there are other options you may want to consider, such as:
It is important to note that the effectiveness of these alternatives depends greatly on how large the tear is and whether there is cartilage that is causing the knee to lock.
Because a meniscectomy often involves only small incisions in the knee using a keyhole-like procedure, the recovery time is typically limited to a few weeks.
After your recovery, you should anticipate significantly less pain and joint locking than before the procedure.
However, you should still expect to continue regaining your strength and balance through specialized exercises.
While most people achieve positive outcomes after their procedure, some may still experience discomfort with high-impact activities.
Meniscectomy surgeries are common procedures used to treat meniscus tears, involving small incisions in the knee to remove torn pieces of the meniscus.
After surgery, it is crucial to get adequate rest and collaborate with a physical therapist. Walking with crutches within the first week aids in recovery.
Driving is typically possible around the 3-week mark, and returning to work occurs between 4 to 6 weeks. Discussing risks, benefits, and cost estimates with your surgeon helps plan your recovery.
A meniscectomy is an outpatient, elective surgery to remove the torn meniscus.
Preparation is key for recovery. Working with a physical therapist before surgery and ensuring good home support contribute to a positive recovery.
Embrace your healing journey with confidence, knowing that proactive collaboration with healthcare professionals and a commitment to self-care will pave the way for a positive and successful recovery.