Chesapeake Physical and Aquatic Therapy
  Columbia- Supreme Sports Club: 410-381-7000
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Knee Injuries - Meniscal Tear
knee illustrationWhat is a meniscus?
Each of your knees has two menisci, called the medial and lateral meniscus. A meniscus is a c-shaped fibrous cartilage that acts as a cushion between the lower and upper leg bones. This shock absorber also plays a vital role in stabilizing the entire knee joint.

What causes a tear?
A meniscal tear is usually the result of degenerative wear or a traumatic event. As you age, the cartilaginous disc becomes less supple and has a greater change of tearing. A meniscal injury however, is not uncommon in young athletes. A forceful twisting motion while the knee is bent from either a contact or non-contact action can cause a meniscal tear.

What are some symptoms of a tear?

  • Pain in knee joint (particularly along joint line)
  • Knee seems to crack and pop
  • Knee gives wayKnee appears swollen -Inability to squat or bounce up and down

How is it diagnosed?
Your doctor or physical therapist can often detect a meniscal tear using a few physical tests. If a tear is suspected, an MRI is usually done to confirm the diagnosis. You doctor can then assess the severity of the injury and make an appropriate prognosis.

How is it treated?
This type of injury can be acutely treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Check with your doctor to see if taking an anti-inflammatory pain medication is appropriate as well. Surgery can be delayed or avoided if the symptoms felt do not severely impact an individual's daily life. Physical therapy can help restore some strength and flexibility without surgery. However if symptoms progressively worsen or affect daily activities, surgery may be warranted. The most commonly used surgical treatment is a partial meniscectomy, where the torn portion of the meniscus is removed. Meniscal repairs are also performed much more infrequently because the menisci have very poor blood supplies. Physical Therapy is often prescribed after the surgery to help restore normal functioning. Your therapist will use methods such as manual techniques, modalities, and therapeutic exercises to restore knee range of motion, strength, and health.

What is the prognosis after surgery?
Most individuals, especially younger adults will be able to return to a normal lifestyle with a few modifications. Weight loss, less high-impact activity, and avoiding traumatic activities all help to reduce your chances of another meniscal injury.

If you have any further questions, please follow up with your local physical therapist or click here to contact us.
By Jared Goldstein
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