Meniscus injuries are one of the most common injuries of the knee. The meniscus refers to two wedge shaped pieces of fibrocartilage in your knee joint between your tibia and femur. They have an important role in distributing load and act as a shock absorber within the knee joint.
Meniscus injuries can be degenerative or occur as a result of an acute injury. Acute meniscus tears during sport often involve a quick twisting of the upper leg on a slightly flexed knee whilst the foot stays planted. It can be with or without direct contact. In sport they can often occur alongside other injuries such as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, so it is important to see a health professional for an appropriate diagnosis.
In the case of a degenerative meniscus tear an awkward twist getting out of the car or stepping down a step may be enough to cause a tear.
When injuring your meniscus, common symptoms include pain localised to the side of the joint (either side depending if the medial or lateral meniscus is involved) when you try to bend, straighten or twist the knee. Swelling can occur and in some cases, you may here clicking, popping or feel as if the knee is locking, as the cartilage may be catching between the joint surfaces and blocking full range of movement.
Your Physiotherapist can assist in the initial assessment and diagnosis of a knee injury and in many cases if a meniscus injury is suspected you will be referred for imaging. Depending on the classification of the tear (size and location) and your presenting symptoms (pain, locking, clicking) surgical management may be necessary.
Physiotherapy is an integral part of the rehabilitation process after a meniscus injury regardless whether treatment is conservative or surgical. Different treatment techniques are used depending on the stage of your rehabilitation. Initially, treatment may involve manual therapy such as massage and education for pain relief, and progress gradually to functional activities including strengthening and neuromuscular retraining exercises to assist your safe return to your previous levels of activity.
If you suspect you have a meniscus injury make sure to contact us and we can help with the initial diagnosis and support you through the rehabilitation process.
References: OthroInfo, 2021, February 16, Meniscus Tears, https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/meniscus-tears/ Sports Medicine Australia, 2021, February 16, Meniscus Injury A guide to prevention and management, https://sma.org.au/sma-site-content/uploads/2013/05/719-SMA-InjuryBrochure-Meniscus_web.pdf