The recovery time for meniscus surgery depends largely on what type of surgery you have. How soon you can get back to work will also depend on the type of work you do—you might miss a week of work or as much as three to six months.
Tears in the meniscus—the cartilage between the thigh and shin bones—are common. Sometimes doctors will recommend meniscus repair surgery, in which the torn edges are sutured back together. This is more commonly used in people under age 30.
For people over age 30, repair is often not possible because of age-related deterioration of the cartilage. In that case, the surgical approach will be removal of the damaged portions of the meniscus, a procedure called meniscectomy.
You’re likely to have better long-term results with a meniscus repair, but the healing time is longer.
Meniscus repair recovery
While everyone’s recovery is different, here’s what you can typically expect with a repair surgery:
- You may be on crutches for four to six weeks.
- If your job mostly involves sitting at a desk, you may be able to get back to work in a week or two.
- If your job requires being on your feet, you could be off work four to six weeks.
- For a very physically active job or a return to sports, plan on a three- to six-month recovery period.
With a meniscectomy, you’ll be back in action more quickly. Here’s what you may expect:
- You could be off crunches within a couple of days to a week and back at work if your job is sedentary.
- You can start driving again in a week or two if you have regained motion in the leg without too much pain and you aren’t taking opioid pain relievers.
- You will probably be able to return to a physically active job in four to six weeks.
How to heal faster
You will recover more quickly if you carefully follow all your doctor’s instructions. In your first days after surgery, you will need apply ice frequently and elevate your knee above your heart to help relieve swelling. Be sure to get plenty of sleep, to help your body heal.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions on exercises you should do on your own at home and when you should see a physical therapist. Faithfully following your physical therapist’s directions, including “homework,” will help you regain strength and stability in your leg as quickly as possible.
The medical professionals at Arizona Bone and Joint Specialists are happy to help you recover from a knee injury. We can diagnose a meniscus tear and advise you on what treatment option is best for your injury.
Arizona Bone and Joint Specialists is located in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona, with convenient on-site services including physical therapy and imaging. For more information, make an appointment by calling the Scottsdale office at 602-493-9361 or the Phoenix office at 602-863-2040
The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.