A meniscal tear is a common sports injury that includes the ripping of the cartilage in the knee. The meniscus is a cartilage disc that cushions and stabilizes the knee while allowing for smooth movement in all directions. A physical therapist for knee injuries in Philadelphia would advise a meniscal rupture and surgery to allow the knee to recover appropriately and regain strength and mobility for a safe return to sport. You may also view videos on YouTube to see how a student-athlete progresses through physical therapy after a meniscal tear and meniscectomy.
What is the meniscus?
The meniscus is a shock-absorbing cartilage pad in the knee that protects, lubricates, and supports the knee joint’s bones. Each knee has two menisci: one on the inside (medial) of the knee and one on the outside (lateral). The menisci support the knee by spreading one’s weight evenly on the bones of the knee for balance and allowing for smooth motions in all directions.
Meniscus Tear & Surgery
Meniscal tears are common in contact sports because the menisci are highly sensitive to injury when the knee is squeezed and twisted. A physical therapist for knee injuries in Philadelphia once stated that a meniscus tear, splitting the cartilage in the knee, can be acute or degenerative. Degenerative meniscal tears develop over time as a result of repeated stress on the knee. Acute tears are most prevalent in sports and are caused by a specific movement, such as twisting and rotating fast on a bent knee with the foot placed on the ground.
Meniscus tears can cause the following symptoms:
- Catching or locking sensation in the knee
- Difficulty walking or going up and down stairs due to pain
- Sharp, intense pain in the knee
- Difficulty straightening or bending the knee fully
- Pop or tearing sensation in the knee at the time of the acute injury
- Swelling within the first 24 hours of injury
A bucket handle meniscal tear occurs on the outer part of the meniscus and results in a vertical cut across the meniscus. The torn meniscus pulls away from the knee joint, creating a handle-shaped piece of injured tissue that is displaced into the front of the knee joint. A meniscectomy is usually required to repair a bucket handle rip and remove the damaged part of the meniscus.
Physical Therapy Treatment for Meniscus Tears
As a physical therapist for knee injuries, Philadelphia will say, It is important to begin physical therapy to allow the knee to recover completely and regain strength and mobility in preparation for a safe return to sport. Initially, the physical therapist does a complete assessment, including specialized tests to evaluate a range of motion in the knee and which activities and postures worsen symptoms. Following a partial meniscectomy, patients usually undergo physical rehabilitation for 7-9 weeks before returning to sports. Physical therapy after meniscus surgery Philadelphia aids athletes in regaining strength, endurance, flexibility, and coordination to maximize their return to sport and avoid re-injury.
Physical therapy treatment for a meniscal tear:
To enhance strength, use neuromuscular electrical stimulation to stimulate and contract muscles surrounding the knee gently. Strengthening exercises help improve and maintain knee strength and restore complete knee mobility. Muscles surrounding the knee and throughout the leg are also strengthened to relieve pressure on the recovering knee tissues. Compression and ice to ease swelling and pain. Stretching and joint mobilization are used in manual therapy to relieve stiffness and restore muscular function.