Arthroscopic view of a meniscus tear

Arthroscopic view of a meniscus tear

The meniscus is a small C shaped structure which sits between the femur bone and tibia bone both on the inside and outside of your knee.  Once thought to be a useless structure, the meniscus plays an important role in managing the contact between the femur bone and leg bone. Meniscus tears are extremely common: They are the most common reason to visit my office.

Athletic injuries to the meniscus are common, and usually the result of a twisting episode. I see this frequently in soccer players, basketball players and the classic weekend warrior.  The injury is often painful and can result in swelling of the joint. A sensation of the knee clicking, catching or popping is common.
While the initial swelling from an injury will often subside, the clicking and popping typically does not go away. Some patients have a sense of instability.  The diagnosis of a meniscus tear is made by history and physical examination and then often confirmed with an MRI scan.  Most meniscus tears do not heal. The blood supply to this tissue is very poor and as a result your body does not have the ability to heal it.
After arthroscopic removal of torn meniscal tissue

After arthroscopic removal of torn meniscal tissue

Treatment is usually surgical when it does not heal on its own. The surgery is performed  as an outpatient.  Either two or three extremely small incisions are made on the knee.  The surgery is performed arthroscopically, meaning that a small camera is used to allow the surgeon to see the inside of the knee while another small hole used to pass tiny instruments into the joint and allowed the care either be repaired with stitches or trimmed away.
The procedure lasts between 20 and 30 minutes.  Most patients are sent home and then within the first 48 hours begin a rehabilitation program.
A day or two up to a week is recommended off work. Normal activities are resumed within several weeks.  Dr. Hacker has performed thousands of knee arthroscopy procedures.
Dr. Scott Hacker is a Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon in San Diego, CA, Team Surgeon to the US Olympic Team.  He specializes in sports medicine and sports injuries, knee and shoulder surgery.
If you have questions about meniscus tears, or have a meniscus tear, please feel free to contact me at Ask Dr. Hacker or through my office.

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