A meniscus tear is usually the result of either a traumatic incident or degeneration.
There are two meniscus (‘C’ shaped discs) located in the knee joint between the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone). Traumatic tears are most common in physically active people under the age of 45, while degenerative tears are more common in the over 40’s age group. Most of the meniscus receives no blood flow at all, which makes recovery extremely difficult. Most traumatic meniscus tears are the result of twisting the knee or a sudden impact to the knee. While degenerative tears are associated with the aging process and result from a breakdown in the collagen fibres that make up the meniscus.
The most common symptoms associated with a meniscus tear are pain and swelling around the knee joint. Tenderness at the injury site is also common. Another common problem associated with a meniscus tear is 'joint locking.’ Joint locking prevents the knee joint from either fully straightening or fully bending and is the result of a piece of the torn cartilage being lodged within the knee joint.
Surgery often isn’t necessary for a meniscus tear and in most cases will improve with osteopathy.
- Balancing. Any activity that challenges your ability to balance, and keep your balance, will help what is called, proprioception: - your body’s ability to know where its limbs are at any given time.
- Stretching. To prevent meniscus injury, it is important that the muscles around the knee be in top condition. Be sure to work on the flexibility of all the muscle groups in the leg.
- Short-arc extensions are done sitting up or lying down. Use a rolled-up towel to support your thigh while you keep your leg and foot in the air for 5 seconds. Lower your foot as you bend your knee slowly. Repeat 10 times for each leg, twice a day.
- Straight-leg raises are done lying down. Lift your whole lower limb at the hip with the knee extended, and keep it up in the air for 5 seconds. Then lower slowly. Repeat 10 times for each leg, twice a day.
- Quadriceps isometric exercises are done sitting up, with your legs extended in front of you. Tighten your quadriceps muscles by pushing the knees down onto the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times each leg, twice a day.
- Stationary bicycling on low tension setting improves your exercise tolerance without stressing your knee. Adjust your seat high enough so that your leg is straight on the down stroke. Start with 15 minutes a day and work up to 30 minutes a day.