Torn Meniscus Treatment Without SurgeryDamage to your knee joint can be painful.  Sometimes surgery is needed to repair a torn meniscus. Below, we focus on non-surgical intervention – torn meniscus treatment without surgery.

The bones of your knee joint and the meniscus are made of cartilage but are of different types. Consequently, there is a difference between a meniscus tear and a cartilage tear?

What is a Meniscus?

  • A meniscus is a type of cartilage in your knee joint.
  • The knee joint is composed of three bones: the femur (thighbone), the tibia (shin bone), and the patella (knee cap).
  • The surfaces of these bones joint are covered with a layer of cartilage. Cartilage helps protect and cushion the joint from the stresses put on it from walking, running, and other daily activities. There are two menisci in your knee between the cartilage surfaces of the bone.
  • The purpose of the menisci is to distribute weight and improve the stability of the joint.
  • One meniscus is on the inner side of your knee–the medial meniscus and the other meniscus is on the outer side —the lateral meniscus. They are thick C-shaped pads of cartilage.


What Is a Torn Meniscus?

  • A torn meniscus is damage to this cartilage.
  • The two most common causes of a meniscus tear are: traumatic injury from a single event (often seen people who play sports and in athletes), and gradual wear and tear due to age, resulting in degenerative processes (frequently seen in older people).
  • Symptoms of a torn meniscus include knee pain, swelling, popping, and giving way.
  • How a meniscus tear is treated depends on the following factors; the size and type of the meniscus tear, the location, the physical demands you put on it, and underlying disease within the knee joint. Some tears need surgical repair but many can be managed without surgery.


Non-Surgical Treatment

The aim of treatment is to decrease swelling and pain in the joint and promote healing of the torn cartilage.

Acute tear

An acute meniscus tear due to injury can be treated with the following simple measures:

  • Rest, ice application, compression and elevation (RICE) help reduce pain and the inflammation that occurs with a torn meniscus. Use crutches to take the weight off your knee joint.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or Naproxen (Aleve), can help ease pain and inflammation. Consult your doctor to see what will work best for you. When the meniscus is damaged, irritation occurs as the bones can no longer smoothly glide over each other which causes pain. A cortisone injection can be a helpful in reducing inflammation.
  • Physical therapy helps to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee and add to the stability of the joint.
  • Maintaining an ideal body weight will also help lessen the stress on your knee joint. Being weight or obese puts pressure on knee joints.
  • Shoe orthotics may be useful to distribute the forces generated by walking and running.
  • Recovery and rehabilitation involve a long-term commitment. The aim is to ensure the muscles surrounding the knee are kept strong to promote joint stability.
  • Avoid activities that cause pain.
  • A torn meniscus caused by an injury will usually resolve within a few days when a nonsurgical and conservative approach is taken.


Degenerative joint disease

If you have degenerative joint disease (also known as osteoarthritis), treatment will be over a longer period of time. Treatment is similar as for a tear caused by acute injury.

Anti-inflammatory medications, like those mentioned above, can help reduce swelling and pain. Cortisone injections given directly into the knee joint can relieve symptom for several weeks. Hyaluronan preparations include Hylan G-F 20 (Synvisc), Sodium Hyaluronate Injection (Euflexxa, Hyalgan), and Hyaluronan (Orthovisc).

Consult your doctor for best treatment.

If you have a meniscus tear that does not need surgery, the article above on torn meniscus treatment without surgery gives an outline of the various effective strategies used to cure this painful, debilitating condition.

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