Q:

Can a torn meniscus heal without surgery?

A:

Quick Answer

It is possible for a torn meniscus to heal on its own, depending on the location and the severity of the tear. For example, small tears along the outer edge of the meniscus, in what surgeons term "the red zone," often get better with rest, notes WebMD.

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Full Answer

When a physician recommends home treatment for a meniscus tear instead of surgery, the therapeutic plan includes the RICE process: rest, ice, compression and elevation. The patient stays off the knee to give the meniscus rest, and he applies ice to it for 20 to 30 minutes, three or four times a day. He wears a brace to compress the knee, and he elevates it by placing it on a cushion level with or above his abdomen to cut down on swelling, as stated by WebMD.

The reason that tears on the outside edge of the meniscus heal without surgery is that the blood supply to the edge is more plentiful than the blood supply to the center, which surgeons call the "white zone." People who are younger are more likely to be candidates for surgery if the tear is significant because the surgery is more likely to restore function at that age. In older patients and others for whom home treatment is not likely to work, a partial or total meniscectomy may be recommended, in which some or all of the meniscus is removed, notes WebMD.

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