Recovering From a Meniscus Tear
“Can I recover from a meniscus tear without surgery, and can I expect a full recovery if I do need surgery?”
Meniscus tears can be very painful at first, but depending on the severity of the tear, you may be able to avoid surgery and return to your normal activity level without pain. All you need is a good course of physical therapy to restore any loss of range of motion or muscle strength and to train you to return to your specific work functions and/or sports activities.
If the tear happens to be severe or located in a particularly precarious part of the meniscus, your knee might lock temporarily in certain positions, which could create a great deal of pain that persists despite going through physical therapy. In a situation like this, your doctor might consider doing surgery to either repair the tear (Meniscus Repair) or simply remove the torn piece of cartilage (Meniscectomy). The latter is much more common and has a shorter recovery period, but a repair may be the only option. If you do have to have a repair, the doctor will most likely require some range of motion and weight bearing restrictions for the first 2-6 weeks, whereas after a simple Meniscectomy you would have no restrictions.
Following either surgery it is important to go through a course of physical therapy to recover the loss of knee motion or leg strength so that you can return to normal function and resume any athletic activities you love. You can expect a full recovery after either surgery if you’re motivated and diligent about doing everything that is asked of you by your doctor and your physical therapist.