Meniscus surgery is one of the most commonly performed operations by Orthopedic Surgeons.  Most of the recent published literature tells us that many of you do not require surgery for your degenerative meniscus tear.  Should I have meniscus surgery is an important question you should be asking your doctor and yourself.

The meniscus is a cartilage disk. Each knee has two of them… the medial and the lateral menisci.  The most common site for a meniscus tear is the posterior horn or back of the meniscus.   The meniscus serves an important function.  It is a shock absorber and helps protect the knee from developing osteoarthritis.  Most tears of the meniscus are due to degeneration or wear and tear.  Most of you do not recall an injury or you simply bent down and felt a pop.

Traumatic meniscus tears such as those associated with sports related injuries are usually larger and more unstable tears.  Often times those will require arthroscopic meniscus repair surgery.  The rest of this post will focus on the far more common complex or degenerative meniscus tear. The majority of people over 60 will have a meniscus tear and not know it.

meniscus surgery decision makingJust because you have a meniscus tear does not mean that you should have meniscus surgery.  Nearly every research study has shown that physical therapy and time can be equally as effective.  If you do not have locking, catching or symptoms of instability then most of you will be able to avoid an operation.

Most popular meniscus tear posts:

Should I Have Meniscus Surgery?

Despite all the research and everything you read here and elsewhere many of you will still try to convince yourself that surgery to treat your degenerative meniscus tear is necessary.  Many of you will be told by your doctor that having meniscus surgery now will prevent it from getting worse or even prevent osteoarthritis.  Hmmm … how best to say this —that’s just not true.

If you have recently been told that you have a degenerative or complex meniscus tear, the research shows that physical therapy is the initial treatment of choice.  For many of you the pain from your meniscus tear will subside and you will return to an active life without the need for an operation.  If however, you continue to have severe pain despite PT and medications then an arthroscopy or keyhole surgery to treat the meniscus tear might become an option to consider.  But the majority of you will not find that to be necessary.