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Can Meniscus Tears Heal Without Surgery?

Your meniscus is known to provide shock absorption and aid in the distribution of forces throughout the knee. Decades ago, a procedure called a menisectomy was common in which your surgeon with remove your entire menicsus after a tear. Now, menisectomies are less common as research has found that meniscus removal can correlate with the development of knee osteoarthritis as time progresses.

But can your meniscus heal on its own without surgery? It likely depends on where the tear occurs and the size of the tear itself. Below is a picture of the meniscus divided into 3 zones: the red zone, the red/white zone, and the white zone. The innermost portion of your menicsus is call ed the white zone because it has little to no blood flow.  The outermost portion of your meniscus is the red zone because it is has a healthy blood supply. The red/white zone is the middle ground between the two. It is more likely that your meniscus will heal on its own if it tears closer towards the red zone, as blood carries many and healing factors to assist with tissue healing. If it tears in the white zone, the likelihood of it healing on its own without surgical intervention is much smaller.

Pictured below are different types of meniscus tears and the surgical options for each:

Not sure if you have a meniscus tear and if you can avoid surgery? Come see us for manual therapy such as joint mobilizations and soft tissue mobilizations as well as a strength and stability home exercise program to see if we can help you avoid an arthroscopic knee surgery!

Maggie Hart PT, DPT


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