Should I Have Arthroscopic Surgery on my Knee to Treat My Meniscus Tear?

Man Grasping His Knee

Orthopedic Knee Surgeons in Wichita Can Help You Decide and Heal

In cases of knee injury, most orthopedic knee doctors near you will attempt to treat the problem as non-invasively as possible.

Modern surgery options make this possible in many cases, and that’s why Mid-America Orthopedics Wichita physicians prefer arthroscopic surgery for conditions like meniscus tears.

What is arthroscopic surgery?

Arthroscopic surgery is a common procedure that orthopedic surgeons use for patients who have fully or partially torn their meniscus, the cartilage in the knee that absorbs shock when running or jumping. Arthroscopic surgery allows the orthopedic doctor to insert a fiber-optic video camera through a small incision – about the size of a buttonhole – in the knee.

The video transmits to a high-definition monitor that shows your doctor what is happening inside the knee. During arthroscopic knee surgery, your doctor uses special tools to operate on your knee in a way that’s less invasive than more traditional surgery methods.

If the rest of the knee is functioning normally, arthroscopic knee surgery to treat a torn meniscus can help to reduce the pain induced by the meniscus tear.

Patients with arthritis or thinning of the cartilage often experience degenerative meniscal tears. Arthroscopic surgery for treatment of degenerative meniscus tears is less predictable.

Orthopedic knee surgeons can help determine if a patient has knee osteoarthritis, which is the traditional cause of a degenerative meniscus tear.

Do all meniscus tears need surgery?

Meniscal tears often lead to pain and dysfunction associated with physical activity. Some of the most common mechanical symptoms include a locking or catching of the knee, which can ultimately limit physical activity and mobility.

The decision to perform arthroscopic knee surgery or a more invasive surgery should not be based on the presence or absence of a tear. It should be based on the severity of symptoms and the level of dysfunction and pain.

Patients who elect to have surgery performed typically do so because they want to reclaim their quality of life. Orthopedic knee surgeons have an extensive history of helping patients do that.

What is the success rate of arthroscopic knee surgery?

It should be noted that every patient and their knee condition is unique. No surgery is 100 percent guaranteed.

However, arthroscopic meniscus surgery is generally associated with good outcomes and pain relief. Surgery done for the right reasons results in very high rates of success and patient satisfaction.

How long does it take to recover from surgery?

The same way that every patient’s knee condition is unique, the same holds true for their recovery. Typically, recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery can range from two weeks to a few months. Recovery time depends on the type of meniscus surgery performed.

Most commonly, during arthroscopic surgery, part of the meniscus is removed; this is called a partial meniscectomy. Occasionally, depending on the tear pattern and type, a repair of the meniscus tear would be performed. This can lead to a longer recovery to allow for the meniscus to completely heal.

Commonly, a period of physical therapy is prescribed following surgery. Physical therapy is important to the recovery process because it allows the patient to regain strength and mobility of the knee in a controlled environment.

Can I walk right after arthroscopic knee surgery?

After arthroscopic partial meniscectomy – taking out or cleaning up part of the torn meniscus – you are allowed to bear weight immediately following surgery. However, this limitation is based upon pain levels.

With meniscus repair surgery, there may be a period of up to six weeks that the patient won’t be allowed to bear weight.

What happens if part of my meniscus is removed?

The meniscus functions as a shock absorber to protect the cartilage within your knee. If your meniscus is severely damaged or part of it is removed, this will change the way the remaining cartilage in the knee handles weight. Over time, this can lead to wear on the remaining cartilage and the development of osteoarthritis, which will lead to even bigger problems with weight-bearing and mobility.

How do I know what surgery is right for me?

Ultimately, the decision is up to you and your surgeon. Multiple factors go into determining if a partial meniscectomy or meniscus repair is right for you.

These factors include the type of meniscus tear, presence of arthritis or cartilage wear, age, and activity level. Often, we are not sure if a meniscus is repairable until time of surgery.

Therefore, it is important to have a pre-surgical conversation with your orthopedic knee surgeon regarding this possibility and the recovery associated.

For a thorough evaluation of your knee pain or other orthopedic concerns, call us at (316) 630-9300 or schedule an appointment today.