Symptoms of meniscal tears include pain on the inner and outer sides of the knee, swelling, stiffness, limited movement, and difficulty straightening the knee. Conservative treatment such as pain medication, rest, physical therapy, and using knee immobilizers may help alleviate the pain, but if it fails, surgery may be recommended based on the location, length, and pattern of the tear.
Two surgical procedures are available for meniscal tears: total and partial meniscectomy. Total meniscectomy involves the removal of the entire meniscus, but partial meniscectomy only removes the torn section. Total meniscectomy may relieve symptoms, but it can cause loss of cushioning and stability between the joints. Therefore, partial meniscectomy is the preferred surgical method.
Partial meniscectomy is performed using arthroscopy, which involves making small incisions around the knee. A miniature camera is inserted through one incision to view the inside of the knee, while tiny surgical instruments are inserted through other incisions to repair the tear. During the procedure, the torn meniscus is removed, and the remaining edges are smoothed to prevent any sharp edges. Any unstable fragments causing a locking and catching sensation are also removed.
Partial meniscectomy helps to restore or maintain knee stability and offers a faster and complete recovery. Rehabilitation exercises are also necessary after surgery to restore knee mobility, strength, and range of motion.
However, there are possible risks and complications of partial meniscectomy, including infection, bleeding, and injury to blood vessels or nerves.