Meniscus Surgery Recovery Time

You may not know exactly what the meniscus is but your body depends on it every time you walk. Located between the thigh bone and the shin bone, it is responsible for keeping the weight evenly distributed over the knees. This rubbery type of cartilage can tear and when it does, it creates an unstable knee and much pain. You can get a torn meniscus while playing sports or even something as simple as turning the wrong way. The treatment for a torn meniscus is knee arthroscopy. Meniscus surgery recovery time depends on the treatment options and how well you are responding to treatments. 

How Is Torn Meniscus Treated?

1. Initial Treatment

When you first visit a doctor for a torn meniscus, he or she may start out slow. They may suggest you just get some rest and stay off of it for a while. Putting ice on your knee can help to reduce the swelling and help cut down on the pain. Make yourself an ice pack with a small towel and some ice cubes and apply for 15 minutes at a time. You can do this as needed. You might also want to check out over-the-counter pain relievers.

2. Therapy

There are exercises that you can do that can strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee and legs so that your knee is stabilized and supported. You can even put arch supports in your shoes to help distribute your weight.

3. Surgery

If none of the home remedies seem to work and you are still in pain, you may have to undergo surgery to repair the meniscus. The surgical procedure will repair the meniscus if it is possible, otherwise it will be trimmed using an arthroscope. Exercises performed after surgery will help to strengthen the knee and help to keep it stabilized.

When Is Surgery Needed?

Whether you will need surgery on your meniscus depends on several things: the location of the tear, how severe it is, and whether other areas of the knee are also injured. Many people who are serious athletes are anxious to get back to their regular routines as quickly as possible. The meniscus can be repaired if it is torn on the outside edge. The blood flow here will help it to heal. If it is on the inside, the tissues that are damaged must be removed. Many people have the meniscus itself removed instead of having it repaired.

Smaller tears may not need surgery, especially if it is located on the outer edge. You can try some of the simple remedies listed above – rest, ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Meniscus Surgery?

Meniscus surgery recovery time depends on several things. The severity of the surgery and the type of surgery will have some bearing on your recovery. Usually you will be resting, exercising, and walking after surgery. Everyone's recovery time is different but here are some estimated time frames based on whether your surgery is an uncomplicated meniscectomy or complete meniscus repair surgery.



Meniscus Surgery

Put weight on your knee

As soon as you can tolerate it 

With a brace, right away

Walking – no crutches

2 days to a week

4 – 6 weeks

Drive your car    

1 – 2 weeks with no pain or meds

4 – 6 weeks

Have full range of motion

1 – 2 weeks

No bending first 4 – 6 weeks

Back to work and sports

4 – 6 weeks if not in pain

3 – 6 months

Factors That May Affect Meniscus Surgery Recovery Time

Everyone recovers from surgical procedures in their own time. There are too many factors involved and this holds true with your recovery time from this surgery. Some things that play a part include:

  • Your weight, age, and the amount of activity you need.
  • Your recovery will also be determined by the type of surgery you had. If you only had a torn piece of your meniscus removed, you will recover much faster.
  • Another area that will help determine meniscus surgery recovery time is whether you had arthritis before the procedure. With arthritis you are probably lacking some of the cartilage that is located on the end of each bone. Arthritic knees are a little more difficult to heal quickly. Some patients have had some success with Hyaluronic Acid or Glucosamine which they think helps to smooth out the joint's surface. Putting a compression sleeve on the knee after surgery is said to help it feel better.

What About Rehabilitation?

Once your surgery is complete, you will be sporting a brace or a cast so that your knee will not move. With a procedure to repair your meniscus you will be using crutches for at least a month.

After you begin the healing process, you will probably begin rehabilitation exercises. You will have to regularly perform exercises that will increase your strength and increase your mobility. The preliminary exercises will help to expand your range of motion. Next will be exercises to build up your strength.

You can do your exercises at home unless your doctor requires you to take part in rehabilitative therapy. You can expect to be in rehab for about 3 months if you are there from meniscus repair surgery. If you only had a meniscectomy, you should recover in 3 to 4 weeks.

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