The primary treatment options for patients with a torn meniscus range from a regimen of rest, ice, compression and elevation to surgical options such as removal or repair, notes WebMD. The location and size of the tear, pain levels, and the patient's age and activity levels all play a role.
The RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression and elevation) is often the first line of treatment for a meniscus tear. Some patients temporarily wear a knee brace in an attempt to allow the body to heal itself. When the tear is too large for this to be useful, the doctor recommends surgery, explains WebMD.
Three different surgical options are available for patients with a meniscus tear: surgical repair involves sewing the torn meniscus back together; a partial meniscectomy takes out the torn part of the meniscus, leaving the rest; and a total meniscectomy takes out the whole meniscus. This is a rare option because it elevates the risk of osteoarthritis, notes WebMD.
The location of the tear is key to determining the surgical choice. If tears are in the outer edge of the meniscus, the plentiful blood supply promotes healing through rest and bracing if the tear is minor. Larger tears in this zone are frequently sewn together. In the inner two-thirds, the blood flow is not as plentiful, making partial meniscectomy the more frequent choice, according to WebMD.