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Meniscus Tear Explained: 5 Key Facts for Effective Recovery

Meniscus is one of the most commonly injured structures in the knee. It absorbs the shock by spreading it across the knee joint. Think of it as a cushion full of water. 70% of the meniscus is water and the rest of the 30% is organic matter. Thanks to the meniscus acting as a bumper, it protects the cartilage from wear and tear. However, unfortunately, it is also vulnerable to injuries or degeneration, which often result in loss of function and intense pain.

Are you recently diagnosed with a meniscus tear? You are in the right place. In this article, we will explore 5 key facts for successful rehabilitation.

#1 Seek treatment early.

Due to its crucial role in the knee joint, injuries to the meniscus often lead to more damage to other structures in the knee, causing further cartilage damage and knee osteoarthritis. Thus, it is important to get treatment as soon as you can to slow down inflammation in the knee.

#2 Restore your knee range of motion

Recent research suggests that patients who had partial meniscectomy or meniscus repair had better results when they received therapy focusing on regaining their knee range of motion soon after the surgery. To achieve this goal, our physical therapists utilize various manual techniques to mobilize the knee joint. This not only helps with the range of motion but also reduces swelling and pain in the knee. It is important to receive rehabilitation supervised by experienced physical therapists instead of doing it by yourself at home to avoid damaging the surgical site and worsening the injury.

#3 Strengthen the muscles to help with shock absorption

Although a meniscus plays a crucial role in taking shock during walking and running, there are other structures in the body that does a similar job: MUSCLES! Your muscles not only contract and relax to generate movement, but they are also great at shock absorption. This is why physical therapists will teach you the exercises that will strengthen the muscles around the knee. They will start simple and easy exercises such as quad sets and total knee extensions. However, they will soon progress you to more functional exercises such as step-ups and balance exercises. This progressive exercise plan is the key to a healthy knee.

#4 Gradually return to activity

When it comes to rehabilitation, you need to listen to your body. Instead of going from 0 to 100, we advise you to consult with the doctor and physical therapist to decide when to return to playing the sports you love or hobbies. There are certain key parameters that rehabilitation specialists are looking for to decide if your knee is ready, such as your range of motion, strength, and pain tolerance. Remember not to push yourself to the point of pain, which can lead to a huge set back on the rehabilitation timeline.

#5 Get personalized treatment plans designed by skilled Physical Therapists

At Advanced Physical Therapy, every patient receives a personalized treatment plan based on their history of the injury and lifestyle. There is no cookie-cutter approach. The rehabilitation process can sometimes feel tedious. That’s why our physical therapists are always asking for your input and feedback. We are ready to adjust the plan as needed and get you to the outcome that you desire. Share your previous history of injuries and day-to-day discomfort so that we can tailor the plan to your needs. With this approach, we have had great success with our patients recovering from knee surgeries.

Dr. Tara Donnelly working with her patient at Advanced Physical Therapy in Burlington, Connecticut

Recovering from a meniscus injury can be a challenging journey. However, you can maximize your heating potential with proper physical therapy. Make an appointment with us today to step closer to living a pain-free life.