Meniscus Injury Physiotherapy Treatment

Meniscus Injury

Knee pain is a common problem that a variety of different conditions can cause. A meniscus injury, often referred to as a torn meniscus, is one of the most common knee injuries.

Meniscus injuries involve damage to the crescent-shaped cartilage in the knee joint between the thigh (femur) and shin (tibia) bone. The meniscus plays a crucial role in providing stability to the knee, absorbing shock, and distributing weight across the joint.

Injuries to the meniscus can result from various causes, often leading to pain, swelling, and limited range of motion in the affected knee.

Physiotherapy is an effective treatment for meniscus injuries. It can help reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness, improve joint function, and help patients return to daily activities.

Meniscus Injury Treatment

What is a meniscus?

A meniscus is a c-shaped fibrocartilaginous structure that partly divides a joint cavity. In the human knee, there are two menisci, the medial and lateral meniscus, which act as shock absorbers and stabilize the joint by evenly distributing the weight and reducing friction between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). A meniscus tear occurs when there is damage to the meniscus cartilage within the knee joint.

Causes of meniscus injuries

  • Trauma: Meniscus injuries often occur during falls, motor vehicle accidents, activities that involve forceful twisting or rotation and direct impact to the knee, such as sports.
  • Age-related degeneration: The meniscus may degenerate as individuals age and become more susceptible to tears. In older adults, degenerative changes of the knee can contribute to a torn meniscus with little or no trauma.
  • Repeated microtrauma: Having had repeated minor injuries to the knee can also cause meniscus injury over time.

Symptoms of meniscus injury

Symptoms of a meniscus injury can include:

  • Pain: A common symptom of a meniscus injury is pain, particularly along the joint line of the knee, especially when twisting or rotating the knee.
  • Swelling and stiffness: The knee may swell, and a feeling of tightness might accompany this swelling.
  • Locking or catching sensation: Some people may experience the knee locking or catching, preventing smooth movement.
  • Limited range of motion: Meniscus injuries can result in difficulty fully extending the knee.
  • Weakness: in the knee during any activity

Risk factors

  • Age: Older individuals are more prone to meniscus injuries due to the natural aging and wear-and-tear of the cartilage.
  • Participation in sports: Athletes, especially those involved in contact sports or activities that require sudden changes in direction, have a higher risk of meniscus injuries.
  • Gender: Men are generally more susceptible to meniscus injuries than women, possibly due to differences in anatomy and muscle strength and from doing heavy work that requires repeated kneeling, squatting, and climbing stairs.
  • Other risk factors include being overweight, having generalized joint hypermobility, and having had a previous anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Meniscus tears treatment options

Treatment for a torn meniscus often begins conservatively, depending on the type, size, and location of the tear.

  • Conservative measures: Minor meniscus tears may respond well to rest by avoiding activities that aggravate knee pain, ice, compression, and elevation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain and inflammation.
  • Physiotherapy: Strengthening exercises and stretching under the guidance of a physiotherapist can improve knee stability and flexibility.
  • Bracing: In some cases, a knee brace may be recommended to support and limit movement during the healing process.
  • Surgical intervention: For more severe tears, surgical procedures such as arthroscopy may be necessary to repair or remove the damaged part of the meniscus. After surgery, you must follow a rehabilitation program, including physiotherapy and home exercises.
Meniscus Injury Physiotherapy Treatment

Physiotherapy treatment for meniscus injury

Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in the recovery process after a meniscus injury. It can help strengthen the knee muscles and stabilize the knee joint. A physiotherapist may design a personalized program that includes:

  • Range of motion exercises: Gentle exercises to restore and improve the knee’s flexibility.
  • Strengthening exercises: Targeted exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee, providing support and stability.
  • Balance and proprioception training: Activities to enhance balance and coordination, reducing the risk of future injuries.
  • Pain management: Using modalities such as ultrasound or Laser to manage pain and promote healing.
  • Functional exercises: Training in tasks used in daily activities or sports movements to ensure the knee can handle real-life stresses.

The duration of physical therapy depends on the extent of the meniscus tear. You may require four to eight weeks of physical therapy for a small tear.

For a more serious tear, physiotherapy may continue for eight weeks or longer. Individuals with meniscus injuries must follow their healthcare provider’s advice and the recommendations of their physiotherapist to optimize recovery and prevent long-term complications.

A meniscus injury is a common but treatable knee injury. Understanding the causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options can help individuals manage this condition effectively and return to normal activities as soon as possible. Contact us at Opal Physio to book an appointment today for your meniscus injury treatment in Langley.