A doctor may recommend treating a small tear on the outer edge of the meniscus with a combination of rest, ice, compression and elevation rather than with surgery, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. For more serious tears of the cartilage, surgery is usually necessary for full healing.
People who do not have surgery for meniscus tears should rest by ceasing the activities that led to the tear, and in some cases, use crutches to take pressure off the affected leg, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Doctors recommend using cold packs on the affected area for no more than 20 minutes at a time and wearing a compression bandage to prevent swelling. People with meniscus tears should also elevate the leg to prevent swelling. People who require surgical intervention usually have arthroscopic surgery to mend the torn cartilage.