A surgery is considered the best treatment option to repair or remove the torn meniscus, but it is important to make a note of the procedure involved, cost incurred, possible complications, and recovery period of the same before opting for it.
Though a rare ailment, meniscus tear can lead to a lot of pain and swelling in the knee joint, intense enough to hamper the person’s movement. The ailment is quite common among sportsmen and people practicing an active lifestyle.
Statistics reveal that 61 of every 100,000 people suffer from acute meniscus tear and 60 percent of people above the age of 65 suffer from degenerative meniscus tear, making it one of the most common knee injuries in the world. An individual is left with no option, but to opt for a surgery if the pain becomes unbearable. In the United States alone, 850,000 meniscus tear surgeries are performed every year.
Meniscus tear, also referred to as torn cartilage, is the damage caused to the meniscus―a crescent-shaped cartilage located at the knee joint in humans. It acts as a shock absorber for two important bones in our legs, the tibia and the femur, and that makes it an important component of our knee joint. The meniscus can suffer a tear owing to various activities, wherein the knee is bent and twisted forcefully (acute tear). The problem can also occur with aging, as the cartilage starts to wear out with age (degenerative tear).
Generally, the symptoms of meniscus tear include excessive pain when trying to move the knee, stiffness and swelling in the knee joint, clicking sound on knee movement, etc. When the condition begins to interfere in normal activities, the individual should ideally seek treatment for the same. The surgical procedure is one of the most useful methods recommended for the treatment of torn meniscus.
Surgical Treatment of Meniscus Tear
The surgical process of meniscus treatment depends on various factors including the place where the meniscus has suffered a tear, age of the person, medical history, etc. On the basis of arthroscopic evaluation, the surgeon decides whether the meniscus has to be removed or repaired. The surgery is performed after placing the person in general anesthesia. In this surgery, it is not necessary to open the entire knee joint.
Arthroscopic knee surgery is executed by inserting an arthroscope in the patients body through small incisions. If the tear lies at the center of the cartilage, it is very difficult to repair it, thus the meniscus has to be removed. If the tear lies in the periphery, it can be repaired. In case of repair, surgical instruments are used to remove the torn part of the meniscus. Meniscectomy, wherein the entire meniscus is removed by surgery, is treated as the last resort when repair is not possible.
The cost incurred generally varies from person to person. Various factors, such as health condition at the time of surgery, medical facility chosen, etc., play an important role in determining the cost of this surgery. One can resort to insurance coverage and other such financial aids. Generally, it costs approximately between $3000 to $6000 for removal or repair of the meniscus. (Note: The price may vary according to several factors; where you get it done being one of them.)
The rehab program usually includes a brief period of rest, followed by walking and selected motion exercises recommended by the medical professional. Post surgery, a knee brace is recommended to disallow unnecessary movement of leg, which can lead to further complications. The patient is also given general instructions, like not bearing weight or keeping the leg elevated for some days after surgery, in order to facilitate speedy recovery. The recovery time also varies depending on the seriousness of the issue. Normally, an individual can get back to his day-to-day activities within 2 to 4 weeks of surgery, however, if any pain or difficulty in movement is observed, the rehab program should be continued for some more time.
Like other surgical procedures, even meniscus tear surgery can lead to complications ranging from unbearable pain to graft failure―most of which are caused due to physical strain. At times, the recovery process slows down, thus making the person suffer from pain for a long time. The person may also experience anesthesia complications and infection in area wherein incisions were made. If any signs of complications are noticed, the person should immediately consult the doctor for necessary aid.
Opting for surgical repair of meniscus becomes a necessity when the ailment starts to reflect on your day-to-day activities. Complications do exist, but the chances are very rare. Following the doctor’s instructions and taking precautionary measures can facilitate a speedy recovery. Meniscus plays an important role in the functioning of our knee and hence, one should take proper care of the same as to keep various knee problems at bay.