In order to understand a meniscus tear, you need to understand what the meniscus is. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in the knee joint that acts as a cushion between the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia). It is C-shaped and sits on top of the tibia, providing stability and shock absorption to the knee joint. The meniscus is made up of fibrocartilage, which is different from the hyaline cartilage that covers the ends of the bones in the joint. The meniscus also helps to distribute weight evenly across the knee joint and lubricates the joint, allowing for smooth movement. There are two menisci in the each knee, one on the inner side (medial) and one on the outer side (lateral).
What is a Meniscus Tear?
Meniscus tears are a common injury that can affect people of all ages and activity levels. A meniscal tear is a tear in the meniscus, medial or lateral, of the knee. There are many ways for the meniscus to tear including sudden twists or because of wear and tear over time. Meniscal tears can be classified as either acute (sudden) or degenerative (gradual).
Symptoms of a meniscal tear can include:
Pain, particularly when twisting or bending the knee
Swelling and stiffness in the knee
A clicking or popping sensation when moving the knee
Limited range of motion in the knee
How Does a Meniscal Tear Happen?
Meniscal tears can occur in a variety of ways, but some common causes include:
Sudden twisting or pivoting of the knee, such as during sports or other physical activities. This can occur in conjunction with other ligament tears such as an ACL tear.
Direct impact to the knee, such as in a car accident or fall.
Degeneration of the meniscus over time, which can make it more susceptible to tearing. As a result, will lead to higher likelihood of developing osteoarthritis.
How is this treated?
Treatment for a meniscal tear depends on the type, size, and location of the tear, as well as the person’s age, activity level, and overall health. In some cases, a meniscal tear can heal on its own with rest and conservative measures such as ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E. method). However, in more severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.
Some common treatment options for meniscal tears include:
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation
Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the hip and knee joint along with improving range of motion.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to manage pain and inflammation
Corticosteroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation
Surgery to repair or remove the torn portion of the meniscus.
How can Hybrid Physical Therapy help with Your Recovery?
Physical therapy can be exceptionally helpful for people with meniscal tears, as it can help regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the knee. At Hybrid Physical Therapy, we can help people learn proper body mechanics and techniques for preventing future knee injuries. Experiencing a meniscal tear can impede on your performance due to the pain, swelling and limited range of motion. We will provide a step-by-step rehabilitation program to improve any deficits noted during the evaluation. Our goal is to help each patient return to their full and maximal potential.
Let Hybrid Physical Therapy be the ones to guide you to the road to success and optimize your performance.