What is the Meniscus
There are two menisci in your knee joint, one lateral (outside) and one medial (inside) and they sit side by side on top of your tibia. Their role is to act as shock absorbers and to add stability to the knee joint. When torn the meniscus causes pain, swelling and can often cause your knee to click or lock.
What causes Meniscus Injuries?
An acute meniscal tear usually occurs when the knee is forcefully bent, compressed and then twisted. The person will likely get pain and they may hear a tearing sensation at the time of injury. Degenerative meniscal tears can also occur in the older population and don’t usually have a specific event causing injury. There are many different types of tears that differ in severity. The more severe ones can cause clicking or locking of the knee, restricted range of movement and function. Some of these more severe meniscal injuries may require surgical intervention prior to physiotherapy. The meniscus itself has a poor blood supply, with the outer third having slightly more and therefore a greater chance of small tears healing.
It is very important to get a full physiotherapy assessment to ensure no other structures are damaged. A medial meniscus injury can occur along with an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear and Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) tear, known as the “unhappy triad”.
Treatment and Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation may include:
- Soft tissue massage to release muscle spasms around the knee
- Oedema management and advice on initial swelling
- Specific exercises to increase range of movement and to strengthen the supporting muscles around the knee and hip. Proprioceptive and balance program to enhance function and stability
- Gait assessment and Orthotic prescription to align your foot and lower limb
- Running analysis to correct biomechanics
- Referral to a specialist as major tears may need arthroscopic surgery to remove or repair the damaged part of the meniscus