I'm pretty bummed that my knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus didn't work. I still have knee pain and can't be as active as I would like. What do I do now?

The first step is to make sure you have a follow-up visit with your surgeon. It's possible your knee pain is caused by something other than a failed meniscal repair. Meniscus (plural: menisci) in the knee depend on an intact and healthy anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Without the ACL, forces on the meniscus increase up to 200 per cent. Assessing the status and condition of the ACL will be an important part of the exam.

Sometimes there are muscular weaknesses or postural imbalances that can contribute to knee pain. A trip to see your physical therapist may also be helpful. Restoring normal motion, proprioception (awareness of joint position), and kinesthesia (awareness of movement) are important after any knee injury, especially one that has involved a surgical repair.

It is also possible that your repair has failed and the meniscus has torn again. Studies show a higher than hoped for rate of failure after meniscal repairs. Failure of meniscal repairs increases with time from surgery. In those cases, a second surgery may be needed to remove any free-floating pieces of meniscus and smooth down any rough or frayed edges.

Reference: 

Alex DeHaan, et al. Evaluation of Success of a Meniscus Repair Device for Vertical Unstable Medial Meniscus Tears in ACL-Reconstructed Knees. In Orthopedics. April 2009. Vol. 32. No. 4. Pp. 246-251.

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