Tearing the meniscus in your knee can be pretty traumatic. You feel the knee buckle underneath you, and then as soon as you start trying to walk, the knee feels not only painful but unstable. Torn menisci do not usually heal on their own, so your doctor will probably refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for a surgical procedure to repair your meniscus. Here's what you can expect before, during, and after that procedure.

What to Expect Before Surgery

There will not be a lot you have to do to prepare for meniscus surgery. Your doctor will probably tell you not to eat for 12 hours before the procedure. This is to prevent you from regurgitating while under anesthesia or what you are first waking up. You may have to stop taking aspirin or other blood-thinning medications that you take on a regular basis so that your blood clots properly after the procedure. Other than that, you'll just need to find someone to drive you to and from the appointment and to care for you for about a week while you're unable to walk.

What to Expect on the Day of Surgery

On the day of surgery, you will check in to the surgical center. A nurse will probably chat with you to ensure you followed the preparation protocols and have not eaten. Your vital signs will be taken, and then your surgeon will greet you as you are wheeled in for surgery. You'll count down from 10, and then the next thing you know, you'll be waking up. 

In most cases, orthopedic surgeons now perform meniscus surgery by inserting several small tools through small incisions, rather than making a large incision and fully opening up your knee. Your knee will be fully bandaged when you wake up, but knowing that there are only a few small incisions in there can be comforting. You'll likely be monitored for a few hours and then sent home.

What to Expect After the Procedure

Your doctor will have prescribed pain relievers, which you should take before the pain sets in for maximum effectiveness. Make sure you are icing your knee as directed. Your surgeon may have sent you home with an ice machine to use. Use it as much as possible to keep the swelling down, which will keep the pain down.

You can expect to be pretty much immobile and on crutches for about a week. After that, your surgeon will have you attend physical therapy, where you will slowly start walking again. You can expect to be fully recovered within three to six months. For more information, consult with an orthopedic surgeon like one at Orthopaedic Associates Of Rochester.