Winneshiek Medical Center doctor gives advice to athletes with a meniscus tear

Posted: Fri, Sep 6, 2019 8:18 AM

A meniscus tear can happen during sports when an athlete squats or twists, but tears can also occur in older adults with aged or worn tissue when they perform the same actions.  When you tear a meniscus, you may feel a "pop," but most people are still able to walk or play.  However, over a few days, your knee will become more stiff and swollen.

Mayo Health Systems Doctor Rick Wilkerson, Decorah's newest orthopedic surgeon, has extensive experience in sports medicine.  He says depending on the location of the tear, there are surgical and non-surgical options.  If the tear is small and on the outer edge of the meniscus, it may heal with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE).  If the tear is more complex and on the inner side of the meniscus, knee arthroscopy may be needed. 

Dr. Wilkerson says In knee arthroscopy, a miniature camera is inserted through a small incision to provide a clear view of the inside of the knee. The surgeon inserts miniature surgical instruments through other incisions to trim or repair the tear.  Patients return home the same day.

Depending on the complexity of the tear, healing from the surgery and rehabilitation with a physical therapist can take from one to three months.  Most patients recover fully.