Meniscus Tear - Recovery Tips
A meniscus tear is one of the most common sources of pain for athletes and active people. The shock-absorbing cartilage between the femur and tibia tears, leading to pain with bending or twisting motions of the knee.
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Mechanism of injury and diagnosis
Injuries of the meniscus are very common from squatting or twisting motions. That is one reason these injuries are common in sports, but non-athletes can suffer them as well.
Surgery to trim out the tear
Surgeries to trim out part of a meniscus tear – partial meniscectomy – are among the most common operations in all of orthopedic surgery.
Sewing the tear back together
For some patients with a meniscus tear in the knee, the surgeon can sew it back together – a meniscal repair.
The Sports and Exercise Injury Primer
This series explains the top 20 injuries suffered by athletes and active people.
Ask Dr. Geier: Meniscus Tears
How to get rid of pain, anxiety and frustration from your meniscus tear.
The Injury Evaluation Course
Does the thought of seeing a doctor for your injury scare you?
That’s Gotta Hurt
The Injuries That Changed Sports Forever
Through the stories of a dozen athletes whose injuries and recovery advanced the field (including Joan Benoit, Michael Jordan, Brandi Chastain, and Tommy John), Dr. Geier explains how sports medicine makes sports safer for the pros, amateurs, student-athletes, and weekend warriors alike.Get the Book
Frequently Asked Questions on Meniscus Tear Injuries
- +What is this injury?
-What is this injury?A meniscus tear is an injury to the shock-absorbing meniscus of the knee. In an athlete, a traumatic injury, especially one involving a twisting mechanism, causes the tear. The athlete will often feel pain only with certain activities, like turning to change directions or squatting motions that involve deep bending of the knee.
- +What are the common treatments?
-What are the common treatments?Nonoperative treatment rarely heals the tear. Since athletes cannot perform activities, exercises, or sports as they would like, they often choose to undergo arthroscopic surgery. The surgical procedure — either meniscus repair to sew the tear together or partial meniscectomy to trim out the torn portion — is based on the location and orientation of the tear. Patients with coexisting arthritis changes in the knee often gain little benefit from arthroscopic surgical procedures.
- +How long could it take to recover?
-How long could it take to recover?Recovery depends on the nature of the surgical procedure performed. People can return to most sports and exercise activities within 6 to 8 weeks after a partial meniscectomy, although complete recovery can take several months. Recovery from a meniscal repair can take much longer, often up to 4 to 6 months.
- +What should I ask my doctor?
-What should I ask my doctor?It is always a good idea to ask if surgery is necessary and if there are nonsurgical treatment options that can be tried first. If you choose to undergo surgery, understanding what restrictions the surgeon will place after surgery and what you can safely do, such as driving and working, are important. Also ask when you could expect to safely return to your sport or exercise.