A meniscus tear is among the most common knee injuries, especially among contact sports athletes. It occurs when you forcefully twist or rotate your knee, especially when putting your full weight on it. This causes pain, swelling and inflammation, stiffness, and limitation of range of motion. Generally, treatment for this injury includes rest, ice, medications, and sometimes surgery.
Meniscus Tear Anatomy
Two bones form the knee joint, the femur, tibia, and patella (kneecap) sit just in front of the joint to protect it from damage. The meniscus refers to the two c-shaped fibrocartilage on each of the knees, acting like a shock absorber between your shinbone and thighbone. They play a vital role in knee stability and help transmit weight from one bone to another.
Meniscus Tear Causes And Symptoms
Meniscus Tears often occur due to an injury during contact or non-contact sports when someone suddenly pivots, forcefully twisting the knees. It can also occur as a result of degeneration. The tissues become worn out and more prone to tears as people age. A sudden twisting of the knee from getting up from a chair can likely cause a tear in the aged menisci.
Torn meniscus feels like a popping sensation in the knees. Symptoms also include pain, stiffness, swelling and inflammation, locking of the knee, buckling knee, and limited range of motion.
Meniscus Tear Diagnosis
Your doctor will conduct a physical examination initially. This includes moving your knee and leg into different positions, observing how you walk, and helping to identify the location and cause of your signs and symptoms.
The doctor will also do Imaging tests such as X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI. This is to check for detailed images of both soft and hard tissues within your knee and help rule out other problems with similar symptoms.
Lastly, in some meniscus tear cases, arthroscopy may be recommended. This procedure uses an instrument called an arthroscope inserted through a tiny incision to examine the inside of your knee.
Meniscus Tear Treatment
Treatment for a meniscus tear depends on the type, size, and location of the tear. Initially, conservative treatments are recommended.
Taking it easy for one or two days allows it to begin healing, which will help relieve pain. Avoid activities that worsen the pain, such as twisting or rotating the knees.
This helps in reducing knee pain and swelling. You may use a towel-wrapped cold pack or ice and place it in the painful area for 10-15 minutes.
Over-the-counter medications for pain may be recommended to help reduce knee pain.
This can help strengthen the muscles around your knee and legs to aid in stabilizing and supporting the knee joint.
Surgery is the last recommended meniscus tear treatment if pain persists after doing conservative treatments.
Meniscus Tear Exercises
Below are some exercises that can be done by someone with a meniscus tear. However, exercises should be done with clearance from your doctor to avoid re-injury.
1. Quadriceps sets
As one of the meniscus tear exercises, sit or lie on a bed with your injured leg extended in front of you. Then, place a towel or a foam roller under your knee. Now try to push the towel or small pillow down by pressing the back of your knee to the bed. Hold for 7 seconds, then relax. Complete 10 repetitions, 1 set.
2. Straight Leg Raise
Lie on the bed with your uninjured knee bent and your foot flat on the floor while your injured knee is extended right before you. Now slowly raise your injured leg until both knees are aligned. Hold for 7 seconds, then relax. Complete 10 repetitions, 1 set.
3. Hamstring Curls
Lie on your belly with your knees extended. If your injured knee is uncomfortable, put a towel or a small pillow under your leg just above your knees for support. Now, slowly raise the foot of your injured knee by bending it and bringing it towards your buttocks. Hold for 7 seconds, then relax. Complete 10 repetitions of meniscus tear hamstring curls, 1 set.
4. Heel Raise
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold onto a table or chair for support. Now slowly raise your heels off the floor and raise your body. Hold for 7 seconds, then relax. Complete 10 repetitions, 1 set.
5. Standing Knee Bends
For this meniscus tear exercise, stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold onto a table or chair for support. Now slowly bend your knees and put your buttocks back to do a half squat position. Hold for 7 seconds, then relax. Complete 10 repetitions, 1 set.
Meniscus Tears usually recommends conservative treatments and exercises. Recovery takes 6-8 weeks, and undergoing Physical Therapy leads to a good prognosis. However, it is always best to consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.