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The treatment of tears of the meniscus depends upon a number of factors. The patient’s age, symptoms and underlying condition of the knee are essential in deciding upon treatment. The majority of tears in older patients (over 50 years of age) can be treated non-operatively, and in younger patients typically surgery is required.
In tears which are chronic in nature, or those which are part of the natural aging process of the knee, the majority can be managed without surgery. Treatment typically consists of physiotherapy to strengthen and retrain the quadriceps muscles, as well as regular anti-inflammatory medications. Discomfort from these meniscal tears will typically settle within 3-6months.
Similarly, if there is underlying knee arthritis, the likelihood is that surgery will not be beneficial to treat the meniscal tear in isolation. In these instances, treatment should be directed at the underlying knee arthritis which may have caused the tear in the meniscus.
KNEE ARTHROSCOPY + PARTIAL REMOVAL (MENISCECTOMY)
Due to the effectiveness of conservative treatment, surgery is only considered for serious tears of the meniscus. Arthroscopic resection (removal) of the meniscus may be indicated in those patients who have ‘mechanical’ symptoms and an unstable meniscal tear. These mechanical symptoms are complaints of knee locking, catching, and giving way. If this is occurring, then keyhole surgery may be beneficial to remove the torn piece of meniscus. Please see Knee Arthroscopy for further information on the procedure.
In younger patients and children Dr Slattery will try to repair the meniscus whenever possible. This is to allow the meniscus to heal and retain its shock-absorbing function within the knee. This is able to be accomplished with the use of arthroscopy and specialised sutures and devices. It is also essential that if the knee has suffered ligament damage that this be addressed at the time of meniscal repair, otherwise the meniscal repair may fail.
Rehabilitation from meniscal repair surgery typically requires the use of a brace for 10-12 weeks post operatively, and the use of crutches for up to six weeks. During this time you will be provided with an exercise routine to assist in strengthening your muscles, helping to prepare you for a return to full capacity.
BOOK A CONSULTATION
Should you wish to discuss this further, please contact the offices of Dr David Slattery at the Glenferrie Private Hospital. Appointments can be booked via our online enquiry form or over the phone on 03 9819 6934.