The recovery time post a meniscus surgery ranges from an estimated 4 to 5 months. Meniscus is a semi-circular, crescent-shaped fibrocartilaginous structure, which partly divides a cavity of a joint. It is most often used with regard to the knee.
Meniscus, as per the human anatomy, is a fibrocartilaginous structure, crescent in shape unlike articular disks, which divides a joint cavity. The meniscus is located in the knee, acromioclavicular, sternoclavicular, and temporomandibular joints. The menisci distribute the weight of the body, thus lessening the friction during movement. Torsion and repeated twisting of the leg can lead to meniscus tear.
Though commonly endured by sportspersons, individuals above 40 years of age may also suffer a meniscus tear due to the menisci becoming weaker. Here we discuss the stages of recovery and rehabilitation, along with a synoptic overview of questions related to the meniscus surgery.
What Are the Primal Indicants?
The symptoms of enduring a meniscus tear greatly depend on the magnitude and the location of the injury. The medial meniscus is said to have been affected if the insides of the knee hurt. However, if it is the outsides of the knee that experience pain, it is an indication of the lateral meniscus being affected.
☛ In case of a hairline rupture of the meniscus, inflammation accompanied with discomfort may be experienced for a few days. Walking around is not an issue at all. However, the injured area may be susceptible to pain while bending low. The pain and discomfort disappear in a week or two; however, there are chances of it reappearing if one exerts or strains the area.
☛ If it is beyond a hairline tear, there is swelling and pain, which takes 3 days on an average to subside. You are able to walk; however, your knee may feel the discomfort. The injury may take a week or two to lessen its intensity with regard to the pain experienced. Nevertheless, it should be known that the pain may relapse if the condition is ignored, or if it remains untreated.
☛ In terms of a significant meniscus tear, pain, discomfort, and inflammation hamper ones mobility. The knee may not be able to take the strain, and sustenance while walking may become increasingly difficult.
What Are the Treatment Options?
» A knee brace may be one non-surgical option to treat the condition. The RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) along with physical therapy may be adopted.
» A surgery may be conducted to repair the torn meniscus.
» Besides repair, withdrawing the meniscus completely through surgery may also be adopted as a treatment method; however, it is not used very often, as it may pose a risk of developing osteoarthritis.
What Happens after Surgery?
After the surgery, when the patient seems to be doing fine, he/she may get back to his/her base. Yes, if the patient is comfortable, is able to walk — of course, with the help of crutches, returning home is no trouble. Besides, an ice pack will be applied after bandaging the operated area to provide relief, and avert swelling and pain. Painkillers may be prescribed to control the discomfort after surgery.
What to Expect during the Recovery Period?
Your knee would be immobilized for approximately 2 weeks after surgery, so that there is no movement of the operated knee. However, minimal movement of the knee may not be allowed unless absolutely necessary for the patient. After 2 weeks of immediate post-operative rest, another 4 to 7 weeks of limited movement follow. If your knee is responding as per the calculative expectations of the surgeon, you may be eligible to resume your daily activities. Physiotherapy is the next step of the post-surgery recovery period. Strenuous exercises and taxing activities must be postponed to a later date as they may hamper the response of the knee post surgery. Know that the recovery period is very sensitive, and optimum care is a must. How early you may return to normalcy, depends on how well your knee responds to the physical therapy.
|Activities||Estimated Recovery Time|
|Endurance to Bear Body Weight||1 week (with Braces)|
|Use of Crutches||4 to 7 weeks|
|Regain Partial Range of Motion, like Driving||4 to 6 weeks|
|Regain Complete Range of Motion||5 to 6 weeks|
|Strenuous Activity, like Sports||3 to 5 weeks|
By the end of 4 to 5 months, you might resume your activities. Take it slow if you are a sportsperson. Jerking the knee too often, or too hard is not recommended.
Why Is Rehabilitation Necessary?
Rehabilitation post surgery is required in order to aid the patient get back to normalcy. In terms of a meniscus surgery, the knee must recover to regain the range of motion and sustenance. A rehabilitation program involves a physiotherapist working with you to continue treatment at a dedicated therapy center coupled with therapies conducted at home. The therapist would be there to guide you at every step and assist you with your exercise regimen. Your rehab program is designed in a manner that it is appropriate for your age and your condition post surgery. Keeping these factors in mind, your therapist will prescribe a few exercises to increase the endurance of your knee.
What Are the Phases of Rehabilitation?
There, basically are three phases of physiotherapy, all of which aim at advancing the patient toward restoring his well-being and regaining the normal pace of life. Exercise sessions are formulated specifically for the patient, bearing in mind the overall health and age of the patient. How long the patient will take to navigate from one phase to another and move closer to complete recovery, depends on his current condition and his response on the scale of recovery progress.
➜ The first phase of the therapy involves exercises that help patients to regain their balance, which is vital for limited and complete movement. This phase begins soon after the patient is home post surgery. Walking with crutches is the first step to coordinated movements, thus it should be used until the patient regains confidence and endurance to walk without seeking any support. The straight leg raising exercise is performed lying on the back. Bend the ankle at 90-degree angle, and keep the knee straight. The next step is to lift the leg 1 foot above ground level, and hold the same position for 5 to 6 seconds. The exercise should be repeated 5 to 10 times, to begin with. As comfort sets in, you may gradually increase the number of times you perform the exercise in each set. Another exercise known as isometric quadriceps must be performed whilst seated. The patient is asked to touch their knees to the floor, and keep the position for 5 to 10 seconds. Performing two sets to kick-start the session would be ideal.
➜ The exercises in the second phase must be performed after the patient discontinues using crutches. They will aid the patient to regain strength in the knee region. The patient must sit on a table or a tall chair, one that is not very easy to get on. Of course, help is required to sit on a raised table or chair, which the therapist will be glad to provide. All you need to do is to let the operated leg hang from the height. Once you are confident about the range of motion you have gained, switching to exercising on a stationary bicycle would ideally be advised. Gradual improvement would be observed with the knee as it comes to terms with the introduction of these exercises. The knee flexion exercise is another session to step up the patient’s knee strength. Lying face down, the affected leg is raised with ease; holding on to the position for a few seconds, it is lowered back to its resting position. With time, weights may be added, the initial being 2 lbs.; increase the weights as per the instructions imparted by the therapist.
➜ The third phase of physiotherapy involves endurance-building exercises. The third phase acts as an overture to leading a normal life. The shallow standing knee bending exercise must be performed only if the knee experiences minimal to no pain. However, if during the course of performing the exercise, you experience discomfort — even if that means a simmering form of it, discontinue right away. If the pain continues, please do not hesitate to contact your therapist. Hold on to the top rail of a chair, and stand behind it. Bend your knees gradually; to judge if you are doing it the right way, make sure you can see your toes, even while you have bent your knees slightly. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds and release.
The recovery from torn meniscus surgery almost draws a parallel with knee replacement surgery, though it is not that complicated and intensive. If you are into sports and want to resume playing, make sure you consult a specialist before you take the plunge. It may help you restore the endurance and strength of your knee.
Disclaimer: The article published herein, is meant to accomplish pedagogical purposes only. The recommendations mentioned hereby may not be generically applicable. The information, by no means, intends to supplant the diagnosis and advice imparted by the medical practitioner.