The only way to repair a torn meniscus is by doing surgery. But not everyone with a meniscal tear needs surgery. In fact, there are many people out there with tears in one or both menisci who don't even know they have them. MRIs frequently show up meniscal tears in patients who have no symptoms.
But when pain, swelling, knee locking, and loss of motion affect function, then surgery to repair or remove the fragment is advised. It is also suggested that before resorting to surgery, conservative care can be tried.
Older adults or even younger adults who are not involved in sports may benefit from activity modifications, nonsteroidal medications, and physical therapy.
The physical therapist can address postural or alignment issues that may be contributing to uneven wear and tear on the meniscus. A program of strengthening exercises can also help reduce limitations and improve function.
Ask your doctor to take a look at your knee and make his or her best recommendations. Explore all nonsurgical options first. Surgery is an option if you are still unable to participate fully in daily activities, work, recreation, or sports.