From what we already know, Minnesota Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson has torn a meniscus in his right knee. More specifically, a bucket handle tear. Recent reports indicate that Peterson underwent surgery Thursday September 22nd to repair the torn meniscus in his right knee. That is what we know. But do we know what a meniscus is? What is it's function? And how long does it typically take to recover after surgery?
Your knee is a joint comprised of a structures to help support the bones: the tibia and femur. The medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus, are two fibrocartilagenous intracapsular structures that run along on the periphery of the top of the tibia bone (where it articulates with the femur). They act to help reduce friction between the tibia and femur, distribute weight bearing forces, increase joint congruency/stability, act as a secondary restraint to excessive knee motion, and minimally act as a shock absorber. Other structures, such as ligaments and tendons, also assist to stabilize and restrict excessive knee motions throughout the joint.
There are many possible mechanisms of injury for either the medial or lateral meniscus. These include movements such as knee flexion with excessive tibial rotation on the femur, think "twisting your knee", as well as rotation with extensive directional force (ie leg going one way but a defender tackling you the other way). Typical signs and symptoms of a meniscus tear include pain, swelling, buckling sensation or giving way, difficulty with full knee extension, locking of the knee, and difficulty squatting.
The recovery of a meniscus injury depends on the severity and procedure performed. A meniscectomy is an arthroscopic procedure performed under general anesthesia where a surgeon will remove the the torn parts of the meniscus and or damaged cartilage. The ideal result will leave the area smooth and stable. A typical meniscectomy may take anywhere from 3-6 weeks for full recovery depending on many variables that include prior level of function pre-surgery. A meniscus repair is a more advanced procedure with a much longer recovery period. Typically the procedure is performed with the meniscus tear being repaired via sutures and possible anchors. The recovery period can last anywhere from 3-5 months that includes a short period of limited weight bearing. Recovery will first consist of passive, but limited range of motion as well as protecting the surgical site. A progression to active range of motion where the patient can use their own musculature to flex and extend the knee and stretching will follow. Strengthening, balance/stability, and proprioception training will also take place to return the athlete to his prior level of function. Per reports Adrian Peterson will undergo a meniscus repair and attempt to return for the postseason assuming the Vikings make the playoffs.
By Adam J. Gresh, PT, DPT
Works Cited USA TODAY http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/vikings/2016/09/21/minnesota-vikings-adrian-peterson-meniscus-surgery-thursday/90781078/ UW Medicine - http://www.orthop.washington.edu/?q=patient-care/articles/sports/arthroscopic-meniscus-repair.html Peterson Picture https://cbsminnesota.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/gettyimages-607642716.jpg?w=640&h=360&crop=1