I tore the cartilage in my knee when I tripped and fell over a tree trunk root while out on a hike. The doctor says to just "leave it alone" and it might heal by itself. Is this good advice?

The trend in treating torn knee meniscus has gone from removing it to repairing it to leaving it alone. Studies show removing the cartilage changes the weight-bearing surface of the joint. Changes in force through the knee lead to arthritic changes in the joint.

Researchers have shown leaving the meniscus alone can result in healing. By leaving the meniscus alone, there's less damage to the blood vessels and nerves in the area.

Tears more than one cm long may need some help. Doctors can shave down the area and remove any fragments. The tear may be long enough to flap over on itself during movement. This can be painful and lock the knee up. In such cases, the doctor may choose to stitch the cartilage down in place without risking further damage to the knee.