Knee Pain After Meniscus Surgery
What Is Meniscus Surgery?
If you suffer from knee pain, someone have may recommended meniscus surgery to you. Naturally, the first step in deciding whether a meniscus operation is right for you is understanding what the meniscus is and what a meniscus operation entails.
The meniscus is a C-shaped disk of cartilage. Each of your knees has two of them. They act as cushions between the shinbone and thighbone, and they can tear when you twist or rotate your knee with sufficient force, particularly when you’ve got your full weight on it.
When a meniscus tears, you’re likely to experience knee pain, swelling, and stiffness. You may also find that knee motion is impaired and you can’t extend your knee completely. The following are other fairly common symptoms:
- A popping sensation.
- The feeling that the knee is locked.
- The feeling that the knee is giving way.
Ice, medication, and rest are sometimes enough to repair a torn meniscus. When they aren’t enough, a doctor may conceivably recommend knee meniscus repair.
Doctors perform meniscus surgery using a device called an arthroscope. This is an outpatient procedure that involves removing either the damaged part of the meniscus (arthroscopic partial menisectomy) or all of it (arthroscopic total menisectomy.
Once you know this much, the next question is obvious:
Does Meniscus Surgery for Knee Pain Work?
Sadly, in many cases, it doesn’t appear to. Many patients report knee pain a year after meniscus surgery. Recent studies suggest that meniscus surgery for knee pain is no more effective than physical therapy or even fake (placebo) surgery.
The Reasons Why Meniscus Surgery for Knee Pain Sometimes Fails
95% of the time, the meniscus surgery is that arthroscopic partial menisectomy in which the damaged piece of cartilage is simply removed (this is sometimes called a meniscus trim.) In other words, the meniscus isn’t actually repaired or replaced, and the diminished amount of cartilage remaining is still obliged to do the same amount of work as the intact meniscus that used to be inside the knee. In other words, less cartilage is experiencing the same amount of force. That reduced cushioning and load-bearing capacity means it may conceivably tear again.
That meniscus operation can even result in new-onset arthritis and the knee pain it produces. The joint is more vulnerable to arthritis after meniscus surgery. A recent study looked at knee MRIs in the 18 months after meniscus surgery. Over time, the researchers found cartilage damage and more-advanced bone spurs in 60% of individuals post-meniscus surgery. They only found the same problems in 33% of patients who’d simply had physical therapy.
The implications are clear. Patients should think carefully before opting for meniscus surgery, and think even more carefully if they’ve already had one meniscus operation and it failed to end their knee pain.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to a meniscus operation.
Alternatives to Meniscus Surgery for Knee Pain
Here at the Pain Relief Institute, we offer a number of non-invasive, non-surgical therapies that can help individuals suffering from the knee pain that comes with a torn meniscus. Chief among them is stem cell recruitment, a safe, minimally invasive procedure that requires no recovery time. It uses healthy stem cells from the patient’s own body as well as amniotic fluid from non-morally challenging sources to promote the growth of healthy new tissue (in this case, knee cartilage) as opposed to just cutting out a damaged piece.
If you’d like to discuss what the Pain Relief Institute can do for your torn meniscus and knee pain, we invite you to contact us today.