Your knee features a small piece of tissue known as the meniscus. This tissue sits in a region where blood flow is limited, and it is susceptible to minor tears that can compromise the function and performance of your knee. Recovering from a meniscus tear can be complicated, depending on whether or not there are mitigating factors in your case.
Here are three factors that can significantly affect the amount of time it will take to recover.
1. The location of your tear.
While blood flow to the meniscus is limited (which can prevent natural healing), there are certain areas of the meniscus that can receive enough blood to heal on their own. Allowing a meniscus tear to heal without surgery can reduce the costs associated with recovery, but it can also extend your recovery time.
A meniscus tear will heal slowly, and you will need to use caution to prevent further injury as you wait for your tear to heal on its own.
2. The severity of the tear.
Your orthopedic surgeon will use images produced by an MRI machine to examine the damage to your meniscus when he or she suspects that a tear has occurred.
These images can help show the doctor where the tear is located, but there is no way to know the severity of the tear for sure until the orthopaedic surgeon sees the injury with his or her scope during surgery. Minor tears can heal in a matter of weeks, while more serious tears often require a significantly longer recovery period.
3. The repair method used.
When it comes to addressing a torn meniscus during surgery, your doctor will either snip away the loose tissue created by the tear or use a series of small stitches to sew the tear together to promote proper healing.
Stitching the meniscus helps to preserve tissue for the future, but it can take longer to heal from this type of repair since you will not be able to put any body weight on the knee during the initial stages of recovery or you will run the risk of popping the stitches loose and needing additional surgery. Shorter recovery times are associated with trimming the meniscus tissue instead.
When you are able to understand some of the unique factors that can affect recovery time for a torn meniscus, you will be able to better determine how long your own recovery could take in the future.