Meniscal tears that don’t have a good blood supply typically require arthroscopic surgery to trim the damaged meniscus. Partial regeneration is often stimulated at the same time. The irreparable tear is resected (removed from the joint) and small arthroscopic baskets are used to clip or trim the torn meniscus. A curved resection device is then used to trim, smooth and vacuum the remaining damaged meniscus from the joint. Expected recovery after arthroscopic trimming of the damaged meniscus (partial meniscectomy) takes 2-8 weeks depending on the severity of the tear.
Arthroscopic surgery is indicated if pain, swelling, and mechanical symptoms persist. Your surgeon will evaluate the location and blood supply of the tear at the time of the surgery. If the damaged meniscus does not have a good blood supply the tear will be trimmed; while meniscal tears that have a good blood supply may be repaired. Great care should be taken to maintain as much of the meniscus as possible in order to retain the cushion this cartilage offers.
Trimming of a small portion of the meniscus is usually six to eight weeks for full recovery, depending on severity. Repair of the meniscus is usually around four to six months with an initial non-weight bearing period of two to four weeks. There may be recommendations to avoid squatting deeper than 90 degrees or limiting impact activities.
Whether trimmed or repaired, surgery is generally successful in restoring full function and decreasing pain. Your doctor may make specific recommendations on impact activities in the future based on the severity of the tear.