The meniscus is a tough, fibrocartilage structure that plays a crucial role in stabilizing and cushioning the knee joint, which is where the thigh bone and shin bone meet. Each knee has two menisci: one on the inside (medial) and one on the outside (lateral).
What is a Torn Meniscus?
A torn meniscus occurs when the meniscus is damaged, which can lead to various symptoms such as knee pain, or a sensation of catching, locking, or even popping in the joint.
Meniscus tears can occur for different reasons. Some tears develop gradually over time due to the natural aging process and wear and tear on the knee. Others result from sudden traumatic events, like sharp turns, hard landings, or impacts during sports activities. It’s important to note that surgery is not typically recommended for degenerative meniscus tears. Instead, the preferred approach is physical rehabilitation to manage the condition.
For acute meniscus tears, surgical treatment might be advised. However, there’s ongoing debate in the medical community about whether surgery is superior to non-surgical, conservative management. Interestingly, many people with meniscus tears don’t even experience knee pain or noticeable symptoms.
Torn Meniscus vs. Torn ACL
An ACL tear and a meniscus tear share common symptoms, including swelling, a popping sensation, difficulty moving the knee, and trouble walking. It’s not uncommon for these injuries to happen together. However, there are some distinguishing features between them.
A meniscus tear may come with a locking sensation, while an ACL tear often involves an unstable or shifting feeling in the knee. To get the most accurate diagnosis, an MRI is typically recommended to confirm or rule out these injuries.
Torn Meniscus Treatment
For degenerative meniscus tears, surgery is not the recommended course of action. Instead, physical rehabilitation is the preferred approach. On the other hand, surgical treatment may be suggested to repair an acute meniscus tear. However, current research results are mixed on whether surgery is superior to conservative management alone.
Regardless of whether surgery is performed, the initial goal of rehabilitation is to restore normal knee bending and straightening, reduce swelling, and promote normal walking. As the rehabilitation progresses, the aim is to return to your previous level of functionality, which may include activities like running, jumping, lifting, and participating in sports.
Torn Meniscus Exercises
- Start by lying on your back.
- Bend your knees slightly and ensure your heels remain on the ground.
- Point your toes upward.
- Push through your heels to raise your hips off the surface until your shoulders, hips, and knees form a straight line.
- Slowly lower yourself back to the resting position.
- Complete 10 repetitions.
Single Leg Box Squat
- Stand on your affected leg in front of a chair.
- Lift your unaffected leg off the ground.
- Slowly lower yourself down onto the chair.
- Then, rise back up while maintaining your balance on the affected leg only.
- Repeat this sequence for 5 repetitions.
What Patients Are Saying
Herlong PT is excellent! They have helped me to rehab my knee after ACL & meniscus surgery. They are encouraging, upbeat, empathetic & knowledgeable. They push me but not too hard. I am making steady progress...and I thank them for it. I would 100% encourage others to rehab here.