Whether through sporting endeavors or activities of daily living the knee endures a lot of force and pressure throughout its life. Knee pain is an extremely common condition. One of the most commonly injured structures of the knee is the MENISCUS.
WHAT IS THE MENISCUS?
It is a fibrocartilage structure that acts as the shock absorber of the knee. Distributing load throughout the knee joint. They are c-shaped, wedge-like discs that are situated on the tibial plateau (the top of the lower leg bone the Tibia) . And lie between the tibia and femur. Every knee has two menisci, a medial (inside aspect) meniscus and a lateral (outside aspect) meniscus.
HOW DO MENISCUS INJURIES OCCUR?
Meniscal tears usually occur with a twisting motion of the knee. Often these injuries are with a slight bend in the knee, but not exclusively. However, repetitive or prolonged strain to the knee through activities such as squatting can result in degenerative meniscal tears. These degenerative tears can also result as part of the natural human ageing process and wear-and-tear.
CAN IT CAUSE KNEE PAIN?
Yes a torn meniscus can certainly be the cause of your knee pain. But it’s also very important to understand, that there are vast number of people who have torn menisci WITHOUT any pain. So its vital to discover if your torn meniscus is the source of your knee pain.
WHAT ARE MY TREATMENT OPTIONS?
Meniscus tears can be managed both conservatively and surgically. Conservative management includes Osteopathic treatment for management of swelling, knee pain, restoration of full range of motion and strengthening of surrounding muscles to decrease the strain/pressure placed on the meniscus.
Surgical management can include cutting out the torn/worn parts of the meniscus. Or less commonly, stitching the meniscus to promote healing. Healing of the meniscus depends entirely on which portion of the meniscus you have torn. Following surgery, Osteopathic hands on treatment is recommended to once again manage swelling, knee pain, restore full range of motion. Building strength of the surrounding muscles is essential to reduce the amount of pressure/stress on the knee joint. This aspect is vital as your knee will now be lacking some of its shock absorber, and may predispose it to further knee pain and injury if not properly supported.
KNEE PAIN? DO I NEED A SCAN?
Generally speaking NO. There are specific test that your Osteopath can perform to determine if you have injured your meniscus. These test can identify which meniscus you have damages. Scans can be costly, and provide can sometimes provide “red herring” information.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Seeking early advice and exercise prescription should be your number one priority when dealing with knee pain and a meniscal injury. It’s a win win situation. If you trial conservative management, and build up the strength of your knee. But you still require surgery, you will be in a much stronger and better place going into surgery. This is a form of “pre-habilitation”. That is preparing your knee, building strength in the muscles before you have your operation.
Many sports stars, weekend warriors and general population have all sustained a torn meniscus. And most return to their pre-injury activities/abilities relatively quickly, with full function. So if you think your knee pain maybe as a result of a torn meniscus. Or ff you have a known meniscus injury that is giving you some problems and affecting your activities of daily living feel free to email us at [email protected] . We are here to help!
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