Meniscus Tears

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Meniscus Tears

Swelling in your knee after a round of kick-boxing or muay thai? You may have injured your knee, in particular the meniscus. The torn meniscus is one of the common causes of knee pain in athletes. This structure provides cushioning and stability to the knee. Here are some common questions to help you discover more about the meniscus and how you can treat a torn meniscus.

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1. What is the Meniscus?
The meniscus comprises 2 C-shaped pieces of fibro-cartilage. They are rubbery in texture and help to support the knee and provide shock absorption and stability. The knee has medial (inner) and lateral (outer) compartments and each compartment has its own meniscus. We call them the medial and lateral meniscus respectively.

2. How common are Meniscus Tears?
Meniscus tears are very common. Athletes involved in sports requiring pivoting and twisting of the knee can be prone to these injuries. Older individuals with knee arthritis can also have degenerative meniscus tears.

3. What are symptoms of Meniscus Tears?

Symptoms you may experience include:

4. What causes Meniscus Tears?
Twisting movements of the knee during sport can cause the meniscus to tear. A sudden twisting movement when the foot is planted to the ground. These tears occur while playing sports. In older patients with knee arthritis, the affected knee compartment can have degenerate meniscus tears even with simple everyday activity.

5. How is a Meniscus Tear diagnosed?
Patients who present with the symptoms above after playing sport may show signs of a meniscus tear. The knee is often painful and swollen in the initial phase after injury. X-rays are unable to visualize the meniscus. A MRI scan of the knee is often needed. The scan will show the morphology and location of the tear. It allows the surgeon to survey the overall condition of the knee, including the ligaments and cartilage.

6. What are complications of a Meniscus Tear?
The meniscus absorbs shock, distributes load and provides stability to the knee. Large tears that are left untreated can cause pain, locking of the knee, and repeated swelling. Bigger complex tears can fail to heal, which affects the stability of the knee. Return to sports needing pivoting or deep flexion can lead to a recurrence of pain and swelling.

7. Who needs surgery for Meniscus Tear?
The meniscus only has blood supply at the periphery or menisco-capsular junction. Parts of the meniscus around the central region have no blood supply and do not heal well.

Patients with complex or large tears may require surgery. Arthroscopic or key-hole surgery is commonly done to address the meniscus. Treatment options include repairing the meniscus, or removing the damaged portion during surgery. Your surgeon will assess and decide if the meniscus tear can be repaired. Chronic tears, and very large tears with poor blood supply can fail to heal even with surgical repair.

8. How is Meniscus surgery performed?
Meniscus surgery is done arthroscopically. It is often done as a day surgery procedure. Patients can be discharged home on the same day after surgery. Keyhole incisions are made at the front of the knee. Refer to our resource on Knee Arthroscopy for more information. Special instruments are passed through the 2 incisions to assess and repair the meniscus with sutures. In complex cases, additional surgical incisions or ports are needed to repair the meniscus.

9. What are the Risks of Meniscus Surgery?
Meniscus surgery is generally a very safe procedure. Risks include infection, bleeding, post-operative swelling and stiffness. However these risks are uncommon and infrequent. The meniscus has a limited blood supply. Not all meniscal tears can be repaired. Repairs can fail to heal well if blood supply is inadequate. This can cause the repair to fail and symptoms to recur.

10. What is the Cost of Meniscus Surgery in Singapore?
The professional fees for Meniscus Surgery can range from $6,000 to $10,000 at a private hospital according to MOH’s Historical Transacted Bill Sizes and Fee Benchmarks. This is however before taking into account your insurance (e.g. Integrated Shield Plans, Medishield Life) and MediSave payouts. In addition, Dr Kau is on the Panel for most major local insurers. Speak to our team today and we can guide you through the claims process.

11. What is the Recovery after Meniscus repair surgery?
Patients are able to stand and take steps once the anaesthetic wears off on the same day. You can be discharged the same afternoon or next morning if you prefer. You will need crutches or a walking aid for the first 2-4 weeks. Meniscus repairs will often need protection and your surgeon may prescribe a knee brace limiting the range of motion in the early weeks. Physiotherapy will aim to reduce swelling and help to strengthen the muscles around the knee. Return to everyday activities depends your pre-existing condition and complexity of the injury. Dr Kau will discuss with you the best way forward and tailor a recovery plan for you.

12. Why choose Dr Kau for your Meniscus Surgery?
Dr Kau is an experienced Orthopaedic surgeon who is well versed in sports surgery, trauma and joint replacement. He is subspecialized in hip and knee surgery. Meet the surgeon here at The Orthopaedic Surgeon