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November 19, 2018 | Orthopedics
The shinbone connects to the thighbone with soft tissue called cartilage. These C-shaped discs are called menisci and function as shock absorbers to keep the knees stable and protect the bones. Meniscus tears are common among those who play contact sports, but injuries can be the result of simple squats, kneeling or heavy lifting.
As the tissues and bones around the knee wear down over time, the risk of injuries quickly increases. A torn meniscus can make the leg feel stiff and cause it to swell, and pain may be present when twisting the knee. Some patients are unable to move their leg fully and often need meniscus surgery for a complete recovery.
As you prepare for meniscus surgery, speak to your surgeon about what types of surgery are available and any benefits, risks or additional concerns that may arise. You should also discuss any vitamins, supplements, natural health products, herbal remedies and medications you take with your doctor. Although the risk is small, these can interfere with anesthesia or increase the risk of bleeding.
Speak to your doctor especially if you take blood thinners or aspirin. You may need to stop taking these medications before your surgery. Prepare an advance care plan so your doctors and family known your wishes regarding your healthcare. Creating this plan may seem like a big step, but it is recommended before any procedure or surgery.
If your tear is too extensive for physical therapy or other minor treatments to be effective, it’s time for surgery. You have a few surgical options based on your level of severity:
Complications during meniscus repair are rare as this surgery is low-risk. You may experience some stiffness in the knee, infections or small injuries to skin nerves, but antibiotics and compression socks can help to decrease the risk of major complications.
Your surgery should only last about one hour. Once you can walk on crutches, are comfortable and can take oral fluids, you can go home with a responsible adult. Your doctor will apply a dressing to the surgical area and wrap it with a bandage, which should stay in place until you start physical therapy. Prevent swelling and pain by placing an ice pack on the knee.
Call your doctor if you notice an elevated temperature, increasing drainage on the bandage, difficulty breathing, swelling in the foot, calf or ankle, or any foul smelling or pus-like drainage from the incisions. Physical therapy is required for recovery and the recovery time is based on the severity of the condition and the patient.
“Meniscal Tears.” Cleveland Clinic.
“Do I Need Surgery for a Meniscus Tear?” WebMD.
Mitchell Larsen, MD
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.