So you tore your meniscus
Lets back up a bit. Before we dive into the diagnosis of a torn meniscus lets talk about what the meniscus actually is. The meniscus is in the knee and helps absorb force during activities that involve the lower body. The meniscus has two parts, the medial (inner) portion and the lateral (outer) portion.
The meniscus is usually damaged with the foot planted and some form of twisting takes place. This can also be accompanied with a pop being felt in the knee. Immediately after the injury you will likely notice swelling, pain bending the knee, and difficulty putting full weight on the knee.
Now if you are reading this I am going to guess that you have been to the doctor who has looked at your knee and suggested surgery. Now if you are having instances where your knee locks and will not fully straighten or bend you may be a good surgical candidate. When the locking occurs it indicates that the meniscus has flapped back on itself and is preventing movement of the knee. In this case surgery is the best route to ensure you return to full function. Without locking being present in the knee physical therapy can be very beneficial! We will now walk through the stages of healing and how we can help you.
Stage 1, control swelling and pain
During this phase we utilize a variety of techniques to decrease swelling and pain. You may also be in a brace and on crutches depending on your level of pain. The main goal here is to decrease the swelling and regain control of your quadricep muscles. The quadriceps tend to become inactive after an injury to the meniscus due to the large amount of swelling. As we start to diminish the swelling and regain control of the quad we can move onto the next phase of meniscus physical therapy.
Stage 2, regain range of motion and strength
During this phase we work on getting full, pain free range of motion. During this phase we utilize a number of modalities including dry needling, contract relax techniques, kinesiotaping, cupping, and mobilizations. As we regain more pain free motion we begin to start strengthening in those ranges. As this point a lot of exercise is done with a strict tempo and quick loading is not yet introduced.
Stage 3, impact and return to full activity
This is the fun phase! Here we start to reintroduce you to your sport or activity of choice with progressive loading to return to full impact activities. It typically takes 6-18 weeks to get to this point depending on the size of the damaged area on the meniscus.
Have questions about a meniscus injury or if we can help? Head to the home page and click the free consult button to come in and talk to us risk free!