Injuries to the meniscus of the knee have gotten national attention. The meniscus is a rubbery, c-shaped piece of cartilage that cushions between the bones of your knee. Each of your knees has two menisci (plural of meniscus); one on the inner (medial) part of your knee, and the other on the outer (lateral) part. Together they act to absorb shock, stabilize the knee, and help distribute nutrients into the tissues of the knee.
A meniscal tear can be caused by sudden twisting or turning. Although meniscal tears are common in those who play sports, anyone at any age can tear a meniscus. As we get older, injuries to your meniscus can occur more easily, sometimes from squatting or stepping onto an uneven surface, or from degenerative changes due to conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Signs and symptoms of a meniscal tear can include:
• Sharp, intense pain in the knee
• Feeling a sensation of catching, locking, or popping in your knee
• Difficulty walking because of pain or a “catching” sensation
• Having difficulty straightening the knee
• Knee giving way without warning
• Acute or prolonged swelling in the knee
Your doctor may diagnose a torn meniscus. Some patients may undergo arthroscopic surgery to remove or repair the tears. Appropriate Physical Therapy can help patients manage their symptoms and regain the strength and mobility necessary to maximize your functional abilities. Patients should keep in mind that is important to give your body time to heal no matter which path you choose. Stationary bicycling can play a very important role in rehabilitation after knee injury. In addition is important to do “safe quadriceps strengthening” to maximize strength while minimizing potential to cause further damage.
While some physical therapists practice under the no pain/no gain mentality there are very effective ways to improve the function of your knee without causing pain. Contact your local physical therapist (musculoskeletal expert) for more information about treatment protocols.
“On the Move” is a periodic column giving healthy lifestyle tips and information on activities happening in the Skaneateles-area. Kraetz Physical Therapy is located at 796 Genesee St., Skaneateles. For more tips follow them at facebook.com/kraetzphysicaltherapy.