What is a Meniscus?
The knee joint is a complicated joint, made up of many ligaments, muscles, four bones, three joints, cartilage and two Menisci. Menisci are used in various joints in the body to increase the congruency of the joint, while allowing some shock absorption. There are two Menisci in each knee, a Lateral (away from the midline) Meniscus, and a Medial (towards the midline) Meniscus.
What caused my Meniscus Tear?
The Menisci of the knee are the most commonly injured Menisci in the body, and one of the most common knee injuries, especially in adults participating in sport. Meniscal injuries usually occur when the knee is twisted under load, for example when a basketball player suddenly pivots on a basketball court, or when a football player receives a hard tackle. However, injury may occur by something as simple as getting up too quickly from a squat. The incidence of Meniscal injury is higher for the Medial Meniscus, as it attaches more firmly to the knee. Medial Meniscus injuries may also be associated with Medial Collateral Ligament injuries, as they have an intimate relationship with one another. The meniscus can also wear and tear over time, with some tears showing up on MRI scans of people who have no pain or problems in their knee at all!
How can you help me with my Meniscus Tear?
Your physiotherapist will take a detailed history of your knee injury in order to make the correct diagnosis. The physical examination will look specifically at the knee, as well as the surrounding hip, knee and ankle in order to find the best possible treatment plan for you. For minor meniscal tears, treatment will normally involve manual therapy in order to settle your pain and return your knee to full range of movement. You will also receive a strengthening program in order to prevent further injury and return you to full function.
In the case of more serious tears, there is limited scope of full meniscal recovery as it is a structure in the body that receives very little blood flow. If the tear is of significant size and is impacting your function, your physiotherapist may organise for a surgical specialist to review your knee. If surgery is required, pre and post operation physiotherapy is highly recommended in order to increase your chances of a successful recovery.
What should I do to avoid aggravating my Meniscal Tear?
- AVOID activities that aggravate your pain, until you have your physiotherapist
- AVOID generic strengthening activities such as squats and lunges, until you have seen your physiotherapist
- REMAIN ACTIVE, while avoiding aggravating activities
- For RELIEF, apply ice to the area. Wrap the ice to avoid direct contact with your skin
- RECEIVE physiotherapy care to get your joints, ligaments and muscles performing to their optimum level
Keep good care of your body and your physiotherapist will continue to monitor your condition. Once your structural weaknesses have resolved you will be able to resume your full activities without worrying about future flare-ups.