The knee contains two semicircular shock absorbing pieces of cartilage on either side of the joint. They are essential components of the knee acting as shock absorbers as well as allowing for proper interaction and weight distribution between the femur and the tibia.
They can be injured through direct impact or twisting and they are also susceptible to degenerate changes. The medial meniscus is more prone to injury than the lateral meniscus. There are different types of meniscal tears as seen on the picture. The symptoms will vary depending on the position and the size of the tear.
Symptoms include a history of trauma or twisting the knee and often swelling of the knee occurs within 24 hours of the injury. There is often knee joint line pain, an inability to fully bend or straighten the knee and a possibility of clicking/clunking, locking and giving way. There is also usually pain when rotating the knee and a difficulty weight bearing on the affected side.
Large tears may require surgery however, in the majority of cases physiotherapy and rehabilitation is all that is needed.
Treatment for Meniscus Tears
Physiotherapy treatment for patients with this condition is vital to hasten the healing process, ensure an optimal outcome and decrease the likelihood of injury recurrence. Treatment may comprise:
- Exercise programs to stretch, self treat and improve proprioception, balance, strength and core stability
- Biomechanical assessment
- Orthotic/insole advise
- Deep tissue massage/myofascial release
- Joint mobilisation
- Dry needling /acupuncture
- Spinal and pelvic re-alignment
- Education / training advice
- Activity modification advice
- Ice or heat treatment
- Clinical Pilates
- Injection advice