Surgical treatment for a torn meniscus either repairs the tear or, if that is not possible, trims back the meniscus to remove the loose portion, Mayo Clinic explains. Doctors only perform surgery after more conservative treatments such as icing, medications, rest and physical therapy. Exercises or physical therapy are also needed for recovery after surgery.
The meniscus is a piece of cartilage, shaped like a half circle, that forms a cushion between the shin bones and the thigh bone, Mayo Clinic says. There are two menisci in each knee joint. A torn meniscus is one of the most common types of knee injury. Activities that cause the knee to twist can lead to this injury, particularly if there is a large amount of weight on the knee while it twists. Any activity that requires aggressive pivoting at the knee causes a high risk of a meniscus tear, with athletic activities such as tennis, football or basketball.
A torn meniscus causes symptoms including pain, swelling, stiffness and popping sensations, states Mayo Clinic. The injury can also cause difficulty with movement, especially when trying to straighten the leg. To confirm the diagnosis of a meniscus tear, imaging scans such as an MRI or an ultrasound may be needed. Doctors may also surgically insert a scope to examine the knee.