What is meniscus surgery?

Meniscus surgery, also called a meniscectomy, is the surgical removal of meniscus from the knee joint. The meniscus is strong tissue called cartilage located in your knee. It cushions the area between your thigh bone and shin bone. Each of your knee joints contains two menisci. These are the C-shaped discs of cartilage.

You can damage one or both menisci in your knee. Injury happens during activities that put pressure on the knee. Or, you can over-rotate your knee joint. Activities like skiing, football, soccer, tennis, basketball or running can cause menisci problems.

Your doctor will determine how serious the tear is and where it's located. If it's mild, you may just need rest and physical therapy to heal the tear. If your knee isn't getting better from non-surgical treatment, you may need meniscus surgery  — also called meniscectomy. The surgery removes damaged cartilage from your knee.

What to expect during meniscus surgery

A meniscectomy is a low-risk surgery. It requires general anesthesia. That means you're asleep during the procedure and don't feel pain. Your doctor makes a small incision in your knee. They use a small tool that removes, repairs or trims the damaged cartilage. A meniscectomy is usually an outpatient operation. Full recovery takes time. You need to wear a brace and use crutches during recovery. Doctors usually recommend physical therapy, too. This is a program of exercises that help your knee heal after surgery.

Common conditions requiring meniscus surgery

Younger children who play organized sports are vulnerable to meniscus problems. Older people experiencing meniscus issues may have weaker, thinner cartilage that's prone to tears. Many times, you can damage the meniscus by a wrong move.

Conditions that require meniscectomy for repair include:

  • Meniscus tear
  • Degenerative osteoarthritis
  • Cartilage deterioration (patellofemoral chondrosis)

Prevent future meniscus tears by strengthening your leg muscles. Exercising your leg muscles helps stabilize and protect your knee joints.

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