Meniscus tears can be treated without surgery.
Many degenerative or attritional tears can be managed non-operatively, and you can return to your “normal” lifestyle. After your tear occurs, your knee might be sore for a few weeks. If you notice your pain is lessening, just wait for a while before considering surgery. Most degenerative tears are “watched” in my office for 6 weeks before we consider surgery as an option. I tend to suggest surgery for tears that cause “significant” pain, impact your quality of life, or cause instability when the torn piece becomes caught between the femur and tibia.
Meniscus tear surgery: When is it indicated?
Certain tear configurations or patterns may not do well with observation. Those are typically very unstable tears where a loose piece is flipping around inside the knee joint. In those cases, you may wish to have surgery sooner rather than later. BUT… bear in mind, the choice will be yours. You will be presented with a set of options and a discussion of the risks of surgery. If you feel that your quality of life; due to the tear is poor, and you are willing to accept the risks of surgery— [Infection, stiffness, incomplete pain relief (if arthritis is present), Complex regional pain syndrome, blood clots in the leg, potential numbness in front of the knee (not a complete list)]…. then surgery may be appropriate for you sooner rather than later.