Your knees work hard. All the wear and tear on the muscles and joints that support knees can lead to injuries that are common but serious. One of the most common knee injuries is a meniscal tear, which is harmful, painful, and most often leads to an operation. According to a study by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, people with meniscal tears may able to achieve relief with physical therapy rather than invasive surgery.
The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that cushions and supports the knee. Each knee has two menisci—one on the inner part and one on the outer part—that absorb shock and stabilize knee joints. A meniscal tear occurs when this rubbery disc is damaged, most commonly by twisting a bent knee the wrong way. The torn cartilage is very painful and limits mobility. Anyone can tear a meniscus at any age, though the injury is most widely seen in those who play contact sports.
Patients of a torn meniscus will often need surgery to remove the damaged portion of cartilage and stabilize it. However, physical therapy can be beneficial if not take the place of an operation for less severe cases. A physical therapist will provide a short treatment process to determine whether or not your knee can recover without surgery. If so, the therapist will control pain and swelling by restoring mobility and strength in the knee.
A process called neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES), which uses electrical impulse to contract muscles, may be used for meniscal tear recovery. Other physical therapy techniques will include special stretches to restore strength and movement to the knee, a fitness strategy, and home exercises. Whether or not you need to undergo surgery for a torn meniscus, a physical therapist will play an important role in the recovery process.
Contact us at Action Reaction Physical Therapy to set up a health evaluation.
Featured photo from WebMD.