Meniscus Repair vs Removal

Meniscus Tears: Why and When Repair Is a Better Option

When your knee functions normally – and without pain – it’s easy to take it for granted. Lots of joint components work together to support normal, pain-free movement in your knees. Among those components, the meniscus – a fibrous, crescent-shaped piece of cartilage – plays a very critical role. Each knee contains two “menisci,” and each serves similar purposes:

  • to reduce friction inside the joint;
  • to protect the joint from impacts;
  • to facilitate normal movement of the knee.

The menisci are tough, and they’re also designed to move and flex. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be damaged. Most commonly, the menisci are torn when the knee is forcefully rotated or twisted, or when the knee is hyperextended or “hyperflexed” – straightened or bent beyond its normal range of motion. Less often, the meniscus tears as a result of degenerative age-related changes or from extra pressure on the joint in people who are obese. Meniscus tears almost always require surgery to eliminate painful symptoms and restore normal range of motion in the joint.

Meniscus Tear Removal vs. Meniscus Tear Repair

There are two basic approaches to treating a torn meniscus:

  • removing the torn part of the meniscus (a procedure called a meniscectomy);
  • repairing the meniscus by suturing the torn parts together.

Both surgeries can be performed using a minimally-invasive approach called “arthroscopy.” Knee arthroscopy uses very small incisions for less tissue damage and a faster recovery compared to traditional surgical approaches.

In most patients, meniscus tear repair is preferred over meniscus removal. That’s because studies have shown when the meniscus is repaired and preserved, patients tend to experience better overall healing and better long-term joint function. In fact, some data shows that patients that have had part of their meniscus removed have a much higher likelihood of develop arthritis and cartilage loss in the knee.

However, although repair and restoration is normally the preferred option, there are a few instances where a meniscectomy might be the better choice. During your evaluation, Dr. Van Thiel will perform a thorough examination of your knee joint and your joint function to determine which surgery is better suited for your needs.

Find relief for your knee pain.

Without treatment, knee joint damage can progress over time, resulting in permanent damage, chronic pain and lifelong loss of mobility. As a top-ranked knee pain specialist, Dr. Van Thiel helps patients from all over Wisconsin and Illinois including Rockford, Elgin, Huntley, Dekalb, Crystal Lake, Barrington, McHenry, and Beloit to get the care they need to feel better, move more comfortably and enjoy a better quality of life. To find out what’s causing your knee pain, call Ortho Illinois at 779-774-1110 and schedule an appointment today.


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Patient Stories

Life changing patient stories

Read about Jack a multi-sport athlete, who suffered from a multi-ligament tear in his knee. Read about Abigail who fell and tore her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). Life changing stories of patients healed by Dr. Geoffrey Van Thiel.

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