Does My Torn Meniscus in My Knee Really Need Surgery?

So your knee has been swelling and you’ve had pain in your knee for a couple of weeks.

You haven’t been able to run or work out the way you were doing before you hurt your knee.

Your orthopedic doctor told you that you have a torn meniscus cartilage and you need surgery.

But do you really need surgery?

There are many people who have an injury to the knee and even an MRI that shows a torn meniscus that can get back to 100% normal activity without surgery.

This includes professional athletes as well as weekend warriors. If you just injured your knee, a torn meniscus can actually heal and you should absolutely NOT rush into surgery.

Urgent surgery is reserved for the patient who cannot fully straighten his/her knee and has locking.

Older patients may have a degenerative meniscus tear that may not require surgery.

It is important to see an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the knee who can accurately diagnose what is wrong with your knee and make sure firstly that you have the right diagnosis.

If you do have all the symptoms and physical findings of a meniscus tear and your MRI shows a meniscus tear, and more importantly you have failed conservative treatment, then you probably need knee arthroscopy to fix your torn meniscus cartilage.

The surgery typically takes less than 15 minutes when done by an expert who does hundreds of these every year.

It is done through two ¼” incisions just below the kneecap. I perform this surgery with local anesthesia and IV sedation and typically my patients leave without crutches and have minimal or no knee pain.

Patients begin gentle activities the day of surgery including walking and using stairs.  My patients are usually back to work quickly and back to sports in about 6 weeks.

If you have been diagnosed with a knee meniscus cartilage tear, first make sure your diagnose is accurate and do not rush to surgery.

If you do need knee surgery, make sure your orthopedic surgeon is a specialist who does hundreds of these annually.

You should expect a quick recovery and return to full activities.

Dr. Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. He is the Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Westchester Health Associates and has subspecialty training in knee and shoulder surgery, including minimally invasive surgery and arthroscopy. Dr. Weinstein is a Board Examiner for the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons, determining certification for other orthopedic surgeons.