Dealing with a torn meniscus can range from being a nuisance to being extremely painful. There is no set expectation from what you should expect if you are suffering from this condition as it affects each quite differently. There are, however, three main approaches that are recommended by physicians to get yourself back on your feet without concern of being in pain or falling.
The most common situation when it comes to a meniscus tear is that it is small and just painful enough for it to be a burden. That does not mean that it is not a serious matter, as if it is not properly treated then it could lead to much worse problems down the road. In this situation, the doctor will likely recommend some days of rest to give the meniscus time to heal on its own. They will also recommend that you alternately heat and ice it to keep any swelling down and increase blood flow to the area to encourage rapid healing. When told to rest by a physician it is critical that you take the order very seriously. Going against your doctor’s orders when it comes to recuperating from an injury can easily lead to a worse situation in the future.
Typically, if resting the joint and giving a few days to a week to heal is not sufficient the physician in charge of your care will then recommend that you engage in physical therapy. This could range from giving you a list of exercises to do on your own at home to some weeks with a professional, depending on the level of pain that you are experiencing as well as whether or not you are having difficulty with keeping it stable. This sort of therapy helps to strengthen the knee so that it becomes stable. Common problems with a torn meniscus include not being able to stand without losing balance, which puts you at risk of tearing it further. By strengthening it over time, you can eventually keep this from happening again.
If your knee is very weak and unstable, you risk more damage just in daily life. This is a tricky situation because you need to use it to stimulate blood flow and muscle growth but this also brings the risk of more injury. In these situations you might need to use a stabilization brace. Find out more on this at Unloader Knee Brace HQ (more about them)
If neither of the above methods works to reduce your pain and stabilize your knee, then you may be a candidate for surgery. Just like any surgery, this is usually that last measure that will be considered as there are much higher risks involved. In most cases, if you follow your doctor’s orders regarding rest and therapy you can avoid having to go this route unless the tear is too severe to heal on its own. Listing to your doctor and following their advice is essential to preventing this. The surgery will likely take place in an outpatient setting where you will be sent home to recover on the same day as the surgery. Recovery from surgery is typically a few weeks and will require you to be on crutches for some time and then use a brace. Physical therapy will also be necessary to help facilitate the healing process. Again, following your doctor’s orders from when you wake up from the surgery to being fully healed should be your number one priority. Not doing so will almost guarantee that you do not heal properly, leading to pain and other issues with your knee for the rest of your life.
Having a torn meniscus can be extremely painful and hinder your mobility and quality of life. These are the three most important ways that your doctor will advise that you deal with your injury, but there are others that could be suggested as well. To get back to your usual self you must follow your doctor’s orders exactly as they are given.