Everything You Need to Know About Recovery After a Meniscus Repair
After a meniscus repair, you will likely experience some degree of pain and discomfort. This is normal and to be expected. The intensity of your pain will depend on the extent of your injury and the type of repair that was performed.
Most people report that their pain is at its worst immediately after surgery. It then gradually improves over the course of several weeks. Physical therapy is an important part of the recovery process and will help you regain your full range of motion and strength.
Recovery times vary from individual to individual, but most people can expect to return to their regular activities within three to six months.
What symptoms are normal in the recovery period?
Recovery times will differ depending on how much work has been done within the knee, but due to it typically being done with keyhole surgery symptoms that are normal:
- Pain can be managed with simple painkillers such as paracetamol
- Swelling in the knee can be expected for three to six months. Immediate swelling will reduce after two weeks, but generally the whole leg may last a bit longer.
- Knee may become stiff
- Clicking or crunching is a very normal sound to hear during recovery
Will I completely regain my previous mobility – or will there be a permanent change?
If the meniscus repair is successful and there is no other associated damage, it is highly likely you will be able to return to your previous state of strength and range of movement if you follow the professional’s advice. Generally speaking, it is not advisable to repair a meniscus for a patient over 50 without biological supplementation.
How long before I can go back to work?
Meniscus repair is a very intricate surgery, it is not suitable for everybody, and it depends on the blood supply to the meniscus. Therefore, how long it takes to heal depends on how the meniscus is repaired – and more importantly, where the meniscus was torn.
If the torn part of the meniscus was near the blood supply, the healing process is usually very successful. However, if the meniscus tear is away from the blood supply and has been longstanding, it may take a long time to recover.
Typically, following a simple repair, the patient can return to work to after approximately six to eight weeks following surgery. However, for a more complex meniscus repair, it will take a lot longer.
What about getting back into sport?
For a low-impact sport such as cycling, the patient can return usually at around six months. However, for complex sport that involves cutting and turning such as rugby, football or Aussie rules football, it may take a bit longer, typically about a year.
Each meniscus tear is very different. The position of a meniscus tear has a huge influence on how soon a patient can return to sport. For example, if the tear of the meniscus is towards the back of the knee, we would advise the patient to avoid deep flexion of the knee, but at the same time, extending the leg and walking on it can help to push the meniscus to heal better.
With the knowledge of how and where the meniscus was torn we can specifically tailor movements or create a programme which can be prescribed to help recovery.
If you have undergone a meniscus repair, it is important to follow your doctor's orders for recovery. This includes taking time off from work or school, avoiding high-impact activities, and using cold compression to reduce swelling. You should also avoid sitting for long periods of time and elevate your leg when possible. Most importantly, listen to your body and rest when you are tired. By following these steps, you will ensure a successful recovery.