How Long Does A Torn Meniscus Take To Heal (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 6 to 8 Weeks

The meniscus is like a cushion at the meeting point of the femur and the tibia. It is a sheath of cartilage that smoothens the junction of the thighbone, (or femur) and the shinbone, (or tibia). It is in a C – shape and forms a layer around the knee joint.

The meniscus can be divided into two parts based on their positions. The exterior meniscus is known as lateral and the inner one is known as the medial meniscus. Meniscus tears form the largest group of knee injuries and might also need clinical support.

How Long Does A Torn Meniscus Take To Heal?

Healing ProcessTime Taken
Without Surgery
Complete Healing5-6 weeks
With Surgery
Walking3-5 weeks
Driving4-6 weeks
Regaining full motion1-2 months
Sporting activities3 months

Meniscus tears can be treated with or without surgery. Generally, if the tears are more severe then the patient can go for clinical surgeries.

Without surgeries, the meniscus tears can be treated at home. If the tear is treated at home, it would take 5 to 6 weeks for the meniscus tear to get completely healed.

If the torn meniscus is serious, it might require further surgery to get back to normal. Surgery can be of two types, either meniscus repair or partial meniscectomy, which is trimming of the tissue. It may be months for the torn meniscus to get healed in this process.

If the patient goes through the meniscus repair, it will take 3 to 5 weeks for him to start walking and 4 to 6 weeks to restart driving if the affected leg has to be used. Although, it might take him more than one month to regain full control of his body movements and the patient might be completely healed after 2 to 3 months.

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On the other hand, if the patient goes through a partial meniscectomy, it would take only a week to get him to restart walking and a few weeks to restart driving. It would also take him 2 to 3 weeks, to regain the full host of activities, although sporting activities can only be performed after 4 to 6 weeks of surgery.

Why Does A Torn Meniscus Take So Long To Heal?

To understand the reason behind such a prolonged period of healing, let us see the structure and functioning of Meniscus.

The meniscus can be understood as divided into three circumferential portions surrounding the knees. There are the three layers of the meniscus which determine how quickly it does get cured. It may also be noted that blood flow within these three zones is a crucial factor.

The three zones are the outer one, the middle one, and the innermost one. The outer zone is also known by names such as the red-red zone or the peripheral zone while the middle one is known as the red-white zone and the inner zone is called the white-white zone.

Being the outermost zone, blood passes through the peripheral zone first. This helps the red-red zone to be in good shape. However, the blood flow decreases as it moves towards the middle zone.

As the blood flow decreases, the middle zone does not get what it needs to repair faster. Moreover, the already decreased blood flow has barely enough blood to rejuvenate the white-white zone. This keeps the inner zone damaged and more time is needed for its recovery.

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A proper blood flow between the three zones helps them to heal faster. Blood flow leads to mobility in the damaged area. It brings along with it several nutrients and carries away the damaged cells. As a result, new cells grow faster which further makes the torn meniscus heal faster.

Conclusion

The time that is taken in the recovery of torn meniscus widely depends on the seriousness of the wound and the course of medication pursued. If the damage is less, it might be treated at home. The meniscus would get healed within 5 to 6 weeks in such a case.

However, if the damage is serious, surgery may be needed. A patient has the option to go for either a partial meniscectomy or meniscus repair. The torn meniscus would take months it get healed if the surgery is pursued.

References

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0363546506293700
  2. https://www.jospt.org/doi/abs/10.2519/jospt.2007.2560
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