Q: My son is 15 and last week while playing tennis, he twisted his knee and felt a pop. His knee hurt and he could not straighten it out. He went to urgent care and had X-rays which showed no break. He was given crutches and was told to see an orthopedic surgeon, who diagnosed a locked bucket handle tear of the meniscus.
After an MRI scan confirmed the diagnosis, the doctor said my son needed surgery. The doctor said he could take the torn piece out and the recovery would be faster or he could repair the meniscus by sewing it back in place, which would mean at least a four-month recovery. My son wants to play right away and we would like some advice.
A: The meniscus is a cartilage that is a C- or O-shaped shock absorber between the bones of the knee joint. If there is a large tear of the meniscus, such as a bucket handle tear, it can get stuck thus preventing the ability to straighten the knee and cause significant pain.
In a young patient, when possible, the preferred treatment is surgery to unlock the knee and repair the meniscus by suturing it back in its place. If the meniscus is torn in a way where it can not be repaired and a large piece of the meniscus is removed, this may lead to arthritis at a young age.
The surgery is easier to perform and frequently more successful if performed soon after the injury occurs and I recommend you contact the orthopedic surgeon to get treated as quickly as possible.