Arthroscopic surgery and physical therapy are both common forms of treatment for tears of the C-shaped meniscus cartilage. Which form of treatment is best depends on the severity of the knee injury, as well as the condition and age of the patient, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Meniscal tears are a common knee injury. This type of injury can cause great pain and limit function. The first course of treatment with this type of injury should be rest, ice, compression and elevation. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen minimizes stiffness and keeps swelling down, states Cleveland Clinic.
Those who do not show signs of healing with this type of conservative treatment face the choice of surgery to remove the torn area and stabilize the knee or physical therapy, explains Cleveland Clinic. Studies have shown improvement in function and pain level with both types of treatment.
Those who want to avoid surgery may want to initially try physical therapy. Physical therapy is generally less expensive than surgery and offers fewer risks, but PT does not help all patients, reports the National Institutes of Health.
Likewise, not all meniscal tears are repairable with surgery. While arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus is considered a safe procedure, there are medical risks, according to Cleveland Clinic. Complications from anesthesia, including respiratory or cardiac malfunction, can occur during surgery.