Dr. Lonnie Paulos is one of the leading orthopedic surgeons in this country. With over 30 years of experience, he is an authority on meniscus repair surgery. The surgical techniques that he utilizes have a higher success rate for patients who want to get back to their active lifestyles faster.
A meniscus tear is the most common intra-articular injury of the knee. The meniscus is the primary shock absorber of the knee, and its preservation is crucial to prevent progressive degeneration in the knee.
The menisci – the medial meniscus (on the inner side of the knee joint) and lateral meniscus (on the outside of the knee) -- are crescent-shaped bands of thick, rubbery cartilage attached to the shinbone (tibia). They act as shock absorbers and stabilize the knee.
In sports, a meniscus tear usually happens suddenly. The injury comes from cutting, twisting, or a fall with the knee in a loaded deep knee bent position. Severe pain and swelling may occur up to 24 hours afterward. Walking can become difficult. Additional pain may be felt when flexing or twisting the knee. A loose piece of cartilage can get stuck in the joint, causing the knee to temporarily lock, preventing full extension of the leg.
With a torn meniscus, you will be unable to extend your leg comfortably and may feel better when your knee is bent (flexed). You might develop pain gradually along the meniscus and joint line when you put stress on your knees (usually during a repeated activity). It’s very common to have swelling, stiffness or tightness in your knee from the injury.
Meniscus tears can vary widely in size and severity. A meniscus can be split in half, ripped around its circumference in the shape of a C, or left hanging by a thread to the knee joint. A barely noticeable tear may resurface years later, triggered by something as simple as tripping over a sidewalk curb.
Grade 3 meniscus tears usually require surgery, which may include:
Arthroscopic Repair: An arthroscope is inserted into the knee to see the tear. One or two other small incisions are made for inserting instruments. Many tears are repaired with the use of sutures and special dart-like devices that are inserted and placed across the tear to hold it together. The body usually absorbs these over time.
Arthroscopic Partial Meniscectomy: If the tear is not repairable, the goal of this surgery by is to remove a small piece of the torn meniscus in order to get the knee functioning normally.
Arthroscopic Total Meniscectomy: Occasionally, a large non-repairable tear of the outer meniscus can best be treated by removing the entire meniscus.
Meniscus Transplant: In the case of a total meniscetomy, and to provide knee joint preservation, an Allograft meniscus can be transplanted in the knee.
If you would like to discuss your knee pain with Dr. Paulos, please call our office today so we can make an appointment for an examination.