Do I Need Surgery for My Meniscus Tear?

By: Sean C. Tracy, MD

Meniscus tears are among the most common knee injuries. They can be caused by a single traumatic event or as a result of chronic degeneration. These injuries are commonly referred to as a cartilage tear in the knee.

What is the Meniscus?

The meniscus is a spongy C-shaped cartilage shock absorber in the knee. It is found on both the medial (inside) and lateral (outside) part of the knee and provides a cushion between the bones when you walk, run or jump.

How is the Meniscus Injured?

Typically, the meniscus is torn as a result of a twisting-type motion while weight is on the leg. For example, a football player who gets his leg twisted during a tackle. The meniscus also degenerates as one ages and becomes more susceptible to injury. Because of this, older individuals often tear a meniscus with a much less forceful event. Standing up from a squatting position after gardening, for example.

When Does a Meniscus Need Surgery?

The meniscus has a very poor blood supply that is primarily along its outside border. Since a blood supply is necessary for healing, most meniscus tears do not heal on their own. Repair is more successful in younger individuals who have a better blood supply. Older individuals, who have a degenerative-type tear, often benefit from arthroscopic removal of the torn meniscus part. Some individuals have a meniscus tear that is not causing any problems and can avoid surgery altogether. There is a great amount of variability when it comes to meniscus tears.

If you experience a torn meniscus, turn to the experts at Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital.