Earlier this year, I found out that I’ve a meniscus tear in my right knee. This blog post is an information dump - from talking to friends and reading articles/forums. Meniscus is the tissue located in the knee that acts as a cushion. Each knee has 2 menisci - one at the outer edge and one at the inner edge. The following diagram shows the types of the meniscus tears.
My knee would stiffen with just 3-4 hours of skiing. Also, my left turns were continuous and smooth whereas my right turns were much harder.
Squats were getting much harder too and I started to feel that my knee could pop any moment.
However, the push to see the doctor came after I encountered extreme pain for a few seconds while trying to get up after sitting cross-legged. Later I found out that this was due to a liquid formed near the meniscus. The liquid is squeezed when you sit cross-legged and the pressure that is released as you stand up causes the pain.
Physical Therapy (PT)
The goal of PT was to strengthen the knee and the muscles around the knee. Some of the exercises we did -
- Hip Flexor
- Single Leg Deadlift
- Squat with Resistance (Bands) at Thighs
- Side Stepping with Resistance (Bands) at Ankles.
- Band Walks
- Single leg Squat Hip Hinge with Dowel
- Lateral Lunge
- Single Leg Balance with clock reach.
Surgery vs No-Surgery
Even after a few months of PT, the pain still lingered. I finally got an MRI and found out that I’ve a tear in the meniscus. A surgery would just take about an hour or so - the doctor would make a small opening near the knee, insert a mirror inside to do the surgery. In some cases, the tissue could be stitched whereas in some cases the tissue has to be cut to avoid the pain. Either ways, the liquid has to be removed. A few things to know -
A meniscus tear (like most tears) doesn’t heal by itself - the pain could go away but the tear always exists unless you have a surgery.
The surgery just lasts around 2 hours and you’ll be back home the same day. You need to go in with an empty stomach and hence most people have the surgery in the morning.
Depending on whether the tissue was stitched back or cut off, the healing could last either 2 months or longer. Either ways, you’ll be in cast or crutches for a few weeks after the surgery and then undergo Physical Therapy to strengthen your knee.
It is ok not to have the surgery as long as it doesn’t interfere with the daily activities.
If you’re in pain when you rotate and twist your knee or if your knee swells up even after a few minutes of activity, then I believe surgery is the right way to go. However, in my case, luckily I’m able to continue most of the activities with minimal pain. I’ve stopped skiing and running but I’ve started to swim and bike instead (less impact on the knees).
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