Meniscus Repair Surgery
The meniscus is the name we give to the semi-lunar cartilage which acts as a cushion between our femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone). Everybody's knee joint has two menisci. They act like shock absorbers.
A torn meniscus is one of the most common types of knee injury. You may have heard it mentioned by a football commentator. It can be caused by any activity which involves twisting or putting weight on the knee. If we feel pain, swelling or stiffness in the knee, this could be being caused by a meniscus tear. There can often be a popping sensation, and it may feel as if our knee locks up when we try to move it.
A torn meniscus can make it harder to fully extend our knee or to straighten our leg, and in some cases the knee can give way, causing us to stumble or fall. This can stop us from doing sports or day to day activities and can also really knock our confidence when moving.
Very rarely a torn meniscus may heal on its own. However, when the tear is more severe or the damage is more extensive, surgery will often be needed to help us return to mobility and become free from pain. If you think you might have a torn meniscus, the best thing is for you to come in for a consultation to have things properly checked out.
Surgery on the meniscus
When it comes to meniscus repair, every situation is different. That's why it is important for us to meet for a consultation before any decision on surgery, where we can discuss the best plan of action to restore movement to your knee and help you to get free from pain.
There are two main approaches to meniscal surgery. One involves using small stitches to hold the torn section of the meniscus together. This is a meniscal repair. I try to repair the meniscus whenever it is suitable for repair. The other is called a partial meniscectomy and involves removing the damaged part of the meniscus altogether.
Both of these methods are a type of keyhole surgery known as arthroscopy. I make very small cuts either side of your knee and use a special tube called an arthroscope which enables me to see inside your knee.
Keyhole surgery is much less invasive than 'open' surgery, and at the end of the surgery you will just need a few stitches. We will meet up again two weeks after the surgery so that I can check on your recovery and take the stitches out.
If you have had a partial meniscectomy you will be allowed to weight-bear as soon you can manage, as long it is not causing you too much pain. However, if you have had a meniscal repair (where the torn section is stitched together) you won't be able to weight-bear straight away. You will be given some crutches to help you walk.
The kind of job you do will affect how soon you will be able to return to work after surgery. If your job mostly involves sitting down, you might be able to return to work after a few days. On the other hand, if you spend a lot of time on your feet or doing work which is more physically demanding, it could be four to six weeks before you will be able to return to work.
It will take much longer before you will be able to return to high intensity or contact sports such as rugby, football and skiing. After a partial meniscectomy, you will need to wait at least 6-8 weeks before doing high intensity activities, and for meniscal repair this can be 6 months or more. I'm a passionate sportsman and I know how frustrating this can be, but in the long run it is worth the wait; a full recovery is far more important, and beneficial, in the long-term and trying to keep your native menisci is important to reduce the risk of long term arthritis.
Knee surgery has seen some amazing developments in recent years. New technology and techniques have made it possible to carry out surgery with even greater levels of stability and precision. We have some of the best clinical results in the UK and are recognised nationally for our excellence and innovative techniques.
As a doctor who specialises exclusively in problems of the knee, I know just how critical knees are in everyday life. I have suffered knee pain of my own in the past, and I know first-hand how much of a difference being pain free can make. I would be delighted to meet with you to find out exactly what is causing your knee pain and to talk about any suitable treatment options. If surgery is needed, I will be able to arrange that for you. It's easy to get in touch; just call my private secretary Mandy on 01761 422 256 and she will be delighted to help you.