Treating A Meniscus Injury
Once your medical professional has diagnosed your condition, they will recommend the most effective treatment for your meniscus injury. They will consider your activity level, age, the location and type of your meniscus injury, as well as when it happened, the symptoms you experience and any other associated knee injuries, when determining whether conservative or surgical treatment options are more appropriate. Conservative treatments are generally recommended for partial, stable and degenerative meniscus tears. Surgical options are used more often for larger, complex or displaced tears.
During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your knee area until your pain and inflammation settle. Scar tissue will often develop as a result of injuries once acute inflammation begins to decrease. As your damaged knee tissues heal this dead, fibrotic tissue will develop instead of forming brand new healthy tissue. This tissue adheres to your muscle fibers, tendons, ligaments, fascia, nerves, and joints causing pain and preventing them from moving properly (this limits your range of motion, flexibility and strength).
Some small meniscus tears have no symptoms at all and may disappear on their own. Other small tears will subside with conservative treatments, especially if your knee is stable and doesn't lock. These tears are often located on the outer edges of your meniscus and have access to a lot of blood supply, which helps them heal quicker (ultrasound therapy is very effective in increasing blood supply in this area, see below for more details).
You will generally notice great knee improvement within 6 to 12 weeks; however it can take months for you to return to normal. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results. If you start using your knee before it has a chance to heal properly (even though it may feel better), you can end up doing a lot more damage than good!
Younger patients tend to have higher success rates with meniscus injuries than older individuals, as their conditions are generally a result of trauma to healthy tissue rather than degeneration over the years. Individuals with a discoid meniscus will often receive conservative treatments if they experience no major pain. However, surgery is often used if symptoms do not subside as they grow.