Meniscal (Knee Cartilage) Injuries
What is a Meniscus?
The meniscus is a piece of “cartilage” in your knee that aids stability by acting as a shock absorber during activities such as running, jumping and squatting. It works to spread the force evenly throughout the knee ensuring there is no damage to bony surfaces.
How do I Injure it?
Meniscal “tears” usually occur in younger people on the sporting field. There is normally a traumatic incident where the knee is twisted and forced into a bent position while the foot is planted.
“Degenerative” meniscal pain occurs in people over 40 years of age through “wear and tear” and normally doesn’t have a specific injury causing event. Repetitive deep squatting may be a predisposing factor to developing this type of meniscal pain.
Signs & Symptoms
- immediate pain in the knee with tenderness along the joint line
- swelling is common, however sometimes not present until the following morning
- unable to fully bend or straighten the knee
- aching and stiffness with knee movement after prolonged rest, ie mornings or long car journeys
- clicking, popping or locking
- pain with squatting
Both types of meniscal injuries can vary in severity, however surgery may be required in cases where a large tear is present. Conservative physiotherapy management generally shows good results, with most surgeons normally recommending at least six weeks of physiotherapy before contemplating surgery. If left untreated, meniscal injuries can lead to chronic pain and early arthritis through disruption of their role in spreading the forces through the knee joint which occur in everyday life.
How can we help?
- Therapeutic Ultrasound to decrease pain, accelerate the inflammatory phase of healing and stimulate repair.
- Soft Tissue Massage to reduce muscle spasm around the knee and help restore normal knee movement.
- Develop a Personalised Strengthening Program for the muscles surrounding the knee joint, increasing the support and shock-absorption qualities of the knee.
- Incorporate Core and Hip Stability Exercises to reduce your chance of re-injury.
- Administer Taping, Supportive Bandages or Braces for pain relief, increased stability and protection upon returning to training and sporting activities.
- Referral to a specialist (if deemed necessary) as major tears may require surgery to repair or remove the damaged part of the meniscus.
Have you hurt your knee are not sure what you’ve done? Are you worried about having time off work or missing too many games? Luckily for you, the experts at Spine & Sports Physiotherapy see knee injuries every day and will get you back to normal in no time.