The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage in the knee joint that plays a crucial role in function and stability. The two meniscii in each knee function as shock absorbers. They are composed of dense fibrocartilage, which is more flexible than bone but firmer than other types of cartilage. Meniscus pads play an important role in walking, running and jumping, and they aid in weight distribution and alignment. The meniscus also helps keep the knee joint lubricated to reduce friction between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone).
A meniscus root tear is a relatively common knee injury that occurs when the meniscus separates from its attachment point on the tibia bone. This type of tear can be caused by the wear and tear that happens with age, or by trauma or injury, such as a sports injury. People who suffer a tear often feel a “popping” sensation in the back of the knee, followed by pain, instability, and a loss of function. Untreated, a meniscus root tear can lead to osteoarthritis and degeneration in the knee. Fortunately, there is a minimally invasive procedure available to fix the issue.
Atlantic Orthopaedics’ surgeon Dr. Welch specializes in meniscus root repair, having performed more than 100 successful procedures to restore function, eliminate pain, and prevent further damage. In this surgery, he makes three small incisions, prepares the torn end of the meniscus for repair, then securely reattaches the meniscus to the root attachment site on the tibia bone through a small tunnel in the tibia.
Following surgery, Dr. Welch places the patient’s knee in a brace to protect the repaired meniscus and allow it to heal. Physical therapy is an important part of the recovery process. Recovery from meniscus root repair takes time and it’s important to follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding weight-bearing and the use of crutches. It may take three months for the knee to fully heal, but the vast majority of patients have excellent outcomes and experience a return to normal knee function.
Below, Dr. Welch answers some questions about Meniscus Root Repair:
Q. In your own words, how does this procedure benefit your patients suffering from knee pain?
A. A meniscus root tear is a specific type of meniscus tear that is more serious than a typical meniscus tear. If the root tears, the meniscus becomes loose and unstable. Surgery involves repairing the meniscus back to the tibia bone. This procedure benefits patients because it restores the function of the meniscus, eliminates pain, and helps restore patient confidence in his/her knee.
Q. Who is a good candidate for a Meniscus Root Repair?
A. A proper candidate for meniscus root repair is a patient who sustains a root tear who does not have significant arthritis in the knee.
Q. Where do you perform Meniscus Root Repairs ?
A. I perform meniscus root repairs at New England Center for Orthopedic Surgery (NECOS) in Portsmouth, NH and at York Hospital in York, ME.
Q. Do you have a recent patient success story you can share?
A. I have dozens of patient success stories. Meniscus root repairs are very reliable; as long as the meniscus heals to the tibia, patients usually return to normal function with no issues. Previous studies have revealed success rates > 90%.
Q. Anything else you’d like patients to know about this procedure?
A. I have many patients (>100) who have had tremendous success after a meniscus root repair. Unfortunately, one issue with this procedure is that each patient must use crutches or a walker for the first 5-6 weeks after surgery. This is inconvenient, but necessary, so that the meniscus has time to heal.
If you’re suffering from knee pain and loss of mobility from a meniscus root tear, you may be a good candidate for this minimally invasive procedure. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Welch for an evaluation: https://www.atlanticorthopaedics.org/providers/tyler-welch-md/