Home Base Physical Therapy What is a Meniscus Tear?
With a minor meniscus tear, you may have slight pain and swelling. This usually goes away in 2 or 3 weeks.
A moderate tear can cause pain at the side or center of your knee. Swelling slowly gets worse over 2 or 3 days. This may make your knee feel stiff and limit how you can bend your knee, but walking is usually possible. You might feel a sharp pain when you twist your knee or squat. These symptoms may go away in 1 or 2 weeks but can come back if you twist or overuse your knee. The pain may come and go for years if the tear isn’t treated.
In severe tears, pieces of the torn meniscus can move into the joint space. This can make your knee catch, pop, or lock. You may not be able to straighten it. Your knee may feel “wobbly” or give way without warning. It may swell and become stiff right after the injury or within 2 or 3 days.
If you are older and your meniscus is worn, you may not know what you did to cause the tear. You may only remember feeling pain after you got up from a squatting position, for example. Pain and slight swelling are often the only symptoms.
Is Surgery Necessary ? How Can Home Base Physical Therapy Help?
There are several studies that demonstrate that surgery is not necessary to treat a Meniscus tear of the knee. An interesting article summarized here: http://www.apta.org/PTinMotion/NewsNow/2014/1/6/ShamMeniscusSurgery/ shows that sham surgery had the same outcomes as a real meniscus surgery.
Keep in mind that there are some instances where surgery is absolutely indicated. The most common case being a “bucket handle tear” where the meniscus flips up into the joint space and it is mechanically impossible for the patient to unlock the knee.
Physical Therapy has been proven to have very beneficial outcomes in treating all other meniscus tears. It is well documented that physical therapy is the least invasive and most effective long term treatment of a meniscus tear. In fact, some studies have shown that meniscal surgery has lead to expedited rates of osteoarthritis.
At Home Base Physical Therapy in Morristown, NJ a specific plan will be implemented for each patient’s specific needs. In general, exercises focusing on strengthening, stretching and improving function will be executed in order to achieve full recovery.