ZocdocAnswersIf an 80 year old woman has a torn meniscus, will walking make it worse?

Question

If an 80 year old woman has a torn meniscus, will walking make it worse?

My 80 yr. old mother has a torn meniscus and will be having surgery soon. It was diagnosed with an MRI. Her pain is terrible when climbing stairs or getting up and down from a seating position, and actually needs assistance. She insists that walking is OK for her and her doctor said if she can walk it is a good thing to do. However, she is getting worse and won't stop or even limit her daily activities. Couldn't walking be making her worse? she doesn't believe that walking can aggravate her condition, can you please advise on this so I can offer her some advise.

Answer

I am sorry to hear about your mother's symptoms. In order to make an accurate recommendation, it will be necessary to perform a thorough physical exam and to review her prior knee imaging. Therefore, I recommend you schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Only after this in-person evaluation will it be possible to make a safe and accurate recommendation for your mother. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage between the femur and the tibia within the knee that provides cushioning for the joint. Certain movements, such as twisting movements, can lead to a tear in the meniscus. Once it is torn, it is typically not able to heal on its own because cartilage has limited blood supply. In some patients, a tear does not cause serious problems. In others, however, it can cause severe pain and swelling of the joint. In these cases, patients often need surgery. This procedure involves trimming the torn part of the cartilage, which can hopefully decrease the pain. Importantly, surgery does not fix the tear itself. Continuing to walk could potentially worsen the meniscus tear. However, not walking will decrease the strength of her leg muscles, which can make recovery more difficult. I recommend you ask an orthopedic surgeon about the best strategy for your mother.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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