New York’s Top Specialists in Torn Meniscus Surgery
For over 40 years, NY Orthopedics has been specializing in orthopedic surgery through a tradition of excellence. Our experienced surgeons are pioneers in surgical joint procedures designed to reduce pain and improve your quality of life. We have offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau and Rockland counties, and New Jersey. The practice is home to the leading physicians in the country who have served the New York Jets, New York Islanders, and the PGA tour.
What is a Torn Meniscus?
The meniscus is a curved piece of cartilage that sits between the shinbone and the thighbone. It acts as a shock absorber for your knee, providing cushioning every time your foot hits the surface.
A meniscus tear is one of the most common knee injuries. A torn meniscus is often the result of a twisted knee, but older individuals may also see meniscus tears due to degenerative conditions. Patients experiencing meniscus tears will experience swelling, pain, and an inability for the knee to fully extend.
Medial vs. Lateral Meniscus Tears
Between shinbone and thighbone there are two pieces of cartilage, the medial and lateral meniscus. The medial meniscus is located on the inner side of the knee, while the lateral meniscus is on the outside of the knee.
Medial meniscus tears are the more common of the two because the medial meniscus is connected to the medial collateral ligament. While there is a lateral collateral ligament, the lateral meniscus is not attached to it, making it far more mobile and less prone to tears.
What Can Cause a Torn Meniscus?
There are two major causes of meniscus tears. One of the most common ways is by twisting the knee, either by pivoting or suddenly stopping and turning. As a result, it’s very common in active basketball and football players. Weightlifters are also at risk for meniscus tears, as deep squatting with heavy weight can also lead to traumatic injury. Tears to the menisci due to traumatic injuries can also occur alongside other injuries, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) tears – often called the “Unhappy Triad.”
Degenerative tears are the second most common meniscus tears, and while they usually affect people over the age of 40, they can happen in people of any age. Degenerative tears can occur in people with obesity due to excess pressure on the knees.
Symptoms of a Torn Meniscus
Symptoms may be different depending on the severity of the tear. They include:
- Popping sensation in the knee
- Pain when twisting the knee
- Locking of the knee
- Clicking sounds in the knee
- The feeling that the knee is giving way
Do I Need Surgery for a Torn Meniscus?
In some cases, a torn meniscus might heal with a combination of rest, ice, pain medication, and physical therapy over a period of several months.
In more severe cases, surgery may be required. The surgeon may trim back the meniscus or provide a transplant.
Torn Meniscus Repair
During a torn meniscus repair, the surgeon will perform an arthroscopy to examine the full extent of the tear. Once the surgeon determines the extent of the injury, they will begin to sew the torn pieces of cartilage together, allowing them to heal.
Recovery time and expectations
Meniscus repair is performed in an ambulatory surgery center and patients do not need to stay hospitalized overnight. The recovery time for a torn meniscus repair is between six weeks to three months.
Torn Meniscus Trimming
If a surgeon cannot fully repair the meniscus, they may perform a partial meniscectomy, where the surgeon trims the damaged cartilage away, leaving the healthy cartilage intact. In the procedure, the surgeon will make small incisions around the knee and trim the cartilage with the assistance of an arthroscope.
Recovery time and expectations
A partial meniscectomy is less involved than a full meniscus repair, resulting in faster recovery times. Many people can return to work within one week. However, it may take several weeks to return to full mobility.
Torn Meniscus Transplant
In some cases, a surgeon can perform a meniscus transplant, which replaces the damaged meniscus with one from a donor. Patients often need to meet a few criteria to be a candidate for a meniscus transplant. There must be extensive damage to the meniscus, and the knee must be in proper alignment. Also, patients who have meniscus tears due to arthritis or obesity often do not qualify for this procedure.
Recovery time and expectations
After a meniscus transplant, patients are advised to stay off their feet as much as possible. It often takes months to fully recover from a meniscus transplant, sometimes taking as long as a year to return to active sports.
How to Prepare for Torn Meniscus Surgery
As with any surgery, there are ways to prepare that can alleviate any stress you may feel after the procedure. These include:
- A person to help take you home as you will be too tired to drive.
- Talking to your doctor if you are taking any blood thinners, which could cause complications during surgery.
- Informing your doctor of any natural remedies or supplements you are taking.
- Checking with clinic staff to prepare any care plans to take home with you after the surgery.
Common Risks of Meniscus Surgery
Complications due to meniscus surgery are extremely rare. However, potential risks include the following:
- Blood clots
- Bleeding in the knee
- Nerve damage
Benefits of Meniscus Surgery
Meniscus surgery comes with several benefits that can improve your quality of life. Patients report extensive pain relief and an increase in mobility. For athletes, successful meniscus surgery allows you to return to the sport you love. Meniscus surgery can also reduce the chance of developing arthritis in the future.
NY Orthopedics Meniscus Surgeons
- STEPHEN J. NICHOLAS, M.D.
- BENJAMIN B. BEDFORD, M.D.
- SERGAI N. DELAMORA, M.D.
- SAMEH ELGUIZAOUI, M.D.
- GREGORY GALANO, M.D.
- MATTHEW GOTLIN, M.D.
- MARK KLION, M.D.
- STEVEN J. LEE, M.D.
- MATTHEW (TEO) MENDEZ-ZFASS, M.D.
- NICHOLAS A. WESSLING, M.D.
NY Orthopedics has multiple sports medicine offices in New York City including Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, as well as the surrounding counties including Nassau, Westchester and Rockland. To learn more about our services or make an appointment, contact us today!