What Is A Meniscus Injury?
There are two “c”-shaped fibrocartilaginous menisci in each knee between the tibia and the femur. One sits in the inner (medial) part of the knee joint and one on the outer (lateral) part of the knee joint. They serve to absorb and distribute forces throughout the knee and add stability to the knee joint. Injury occurs when there is fraying or tearing of either of the menisci.
What Are The Causes Of A Medial Meniscus Tear?
Most often, meniscus injuries occur while playing sports (in younger populations), when excessive forces are coupled with poor body and joint mechanics. They often occur with a twisting mechanism through the knee while it is bent and planted on the ground. Osteoarthritis can also contribute to meniscus wearing and lead to eventual tears. Degenerated menisci (usually found in older populations) are more likely to tear as a result of normal, non traumatic, forces going through the knee.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Meniscus Injury?
Signs and symptoms of meniscus injury including joint catching, clicking and locking, as well as pain, restricted joint range of motion (especially at the end ranges of motion), and inflammation. Patients may also present with tenderness of the knee joint.
What Are The Risk Factors Of A Lateral Meniscus Tear?
Participating in sports, repetitive twisting motions through the knee, poor biomechanics causing meniscus wearing, osteoarthritis, trauma with the rotating while planted.
How Is A Meniscus Tear Diagnosed?
When a patient presents with signs and symptoms of meniscus injury coupled with positive results on special PT testing. MRI imaging may also assist with the diagnosis.
What Are The Possible Treatments For A Meniscus Injury?
Conservative treatment includes inflammation reduction, pain reduction techniques, soft tissue release to decrease muscular tightness around the knee, manual therapy, including joint mobilization to improve range of motion, especially at end range. Therapeutic exercise is provided to target muscles around the knee, as well as strengthen the hip abductors. Abductor strength increases hip stability is, which is essential, as these muscles control the alignment of the knee in weight-bearing. Neuromuscular re-education to improve proprioception and single leg stability is also provided.
Are There Preventative Steps Or Measures To Avoid A Meniscus Injury?
Maintaining good knee flexibility, as well as good hip strength and stability in the hips (which control the alignment of the knee) to avoid excessive forces traveling through the knee in positions of poor alignment.
What Are The Risks If A Meniscus Injury Is Left Untreated?
Meniscus fraying/tearing can lead to more extensive tearing and increase in inflammation and pain. Without the meniscus doing its job of shock absorption and distribution of forces, individuals may be more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
Are There Other Related Conditions To A Meniscus Injury?
Osteoarthritis, knee joint bone spurs, knee inflammation, effusion
Key Takeaways About Meniscus Injury
- Conservative therapy is the first line of treatment for a meniscus injury, as most cases do not require surgery.
- Meniscus wearing may cause pain without the presence of meniscus tears. Wearing is caused by degeneration of the meniscus due to repetitive microtrauma, often caused by poor body mechanics.
- Spring Forward PT will customize every treatment program (including manual therapy and therapeutic exercise) to each patient’s individual presentation, goals, and needs, whether the patient wants to get back to climbing stairs or climbing mountains.