The knee contains two c shaped rings of cartilage on the top of the tibia – one on the inside (medial meniscus) and one on the outside (lateral meniscus). The function of the menisci is to provide stability and cushioning for the knee.
Meniscus injury often occurs because of a forceful twist or rotation through the knee, especially when weight is on that leg and the foot is planted. The meniscus can also be injured due to repetitive micro trauma from poor biomechanics and loading over time.
- Pain, swelling and stiffness of the knee.
- A popping, clicking, or catching sensation may be present on movement.
- Difficulty achieving full bending or straightening of the knee.
- Pain with weight bearing activities, especially those which involve twisting or rotation.
- The knee may feel unstable and/or buckling may occur, especially after swelling subsides.
Most meniscal injuries can be managed successfully with a conservative approach. The initial goals are to offload the knee enough to reduce pain and swelling and restore full movement. During this stage, ice and anti-inflammatory medication can be helpful to reduce swelling and inflammation. At times taping and use of a crutch to offload the knee may be required.
Following this, your physio can guide you through a progressive loading program, with a large focus on the muscles which help to control the knee such as the hip and thigh muscles. Depending on each client’s goals, you may then progress back to agility, plyometric, and change of direction exercises to prepare the knee for each day’s perturbations or return to sport.
In some more severe cases, surgery to trim the damaged section of the meniscus may be required, however this should always be considered only after failing conservative treatment, aimed at preserving as much of the cartilage as possible.
If you have been dealing with the pain and limitations of what may be a meniscal injury, book an assessment with one of our expert physios today for a diagnosis and plan to get you back doing what you love!