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Repairing a Torn Meniscus to Get Back on the Court

David Herman photo

David Herman was experiencing daily leg pain that limited his mobility and interfered with his ability to play basketball, a sport he enjoys playing regularly. David works in media sales and is originally from Washington D.C. He has lived in Arizona for nine years with his wife and their daughter.

After seeking a diagnosis for his leg pain from a previous doctor and being misdiagnosed, David came to see Dr. Brian Gruber after being referred to him by his primary care doctor. After an examination and tests that included an x-ray and MRI, Dr. Gruber diagnosed David with a torn meniscus and scheduled surgery to repair it.

David could not be happier with the outcome stating, “Dr. Gruber is first rate. After repairing my meniscus, I now play basketball fully and have returned to all of the activities I could do before my injury.”

“I would definitely recommend Dr. Gruber,” said David. “He is very professional and his staff are also courteous and easy to get along with as well as being experienced, honest and friendly.”

Learn More about a Torn Meniscus

What is the meniscus?
The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in your knee that cushions and stabilizes the joint. The meniscus protects the bones from wear and tear. Damage to the meniscus, a meniscus tear, is quite common and is one of the most frequent cartilage injuries of the knee that we see in orthopedics.

Meniscus tears occur while playing many sports, including contact sports such as football, but also in sports where you are jumping and cutting such as volleyball, basketball and soccer. The meniscus does weaken with age, so older athletes are at a higher risk for injury.

What does a damaged meniscus feel like?
When the meniscus is damaged, it can be quite painful. Symptoms of a torn meniscus include:

• The knee tends to get “stuck” or locks up
• Swelling in the knee area
• A popping sensation when the injury occurs
• Pain in the knee
• Trouble bending and straightening the leg

Immediately after the injury, there may not be that much pain, but once inflammation sets in, the knee will typically begin to hurt a lot.

How is a torn meniscus repaired?
Treatment to repair a torn meniscus will depend on the location of the tear and the size of it. If the damage is to the outer area of the meniscus – called the “red zone” – there will be a good blood supply and the tear may heal on its own if it is small. However, if the tear is in the inner two third of the meniscus – the “white zone” – where there is not a good blood supply and therefore a lack of blood vessels to bring healing nutrients to the area, medical intervention will likely be necessary.

If surgery is needed, the good news is that the procedure is relatively simple. It is typically done in an outpatient setting so that a patient can go home the same day. The patient may need a brace for protection after surgery and physical therapy.

The prognosis for a full recovery after meniscus surgery is very good with 85% to 90% of people who have the surgery reporting excellent results.

Recovery time for meniscus repair surgery depends how severe the injury is. People also heal at different rates. However, the typical recovery times is between four to six weeks. Physical therapy after surgery can also help to minimize any complications and speed recovery.