Do you remember your favorite athlete missing a few games due to a meniscus injury? The answer might be yes because meniscus is a common knee injury. Meniscus Injury is a common injury in athletes as their body undergoes extensive pressure. People in their older age are likely to suffer a meniscus tear. The meniscus is like a C-shaped cushion that supports the joints, and excessive force on it can result in a muscle tear.
But can we treat Meniscus injury with physical therapy? According to a recent study, surgery should be the last option as it can have lasting effects on the joint. So, what are the alternatives to surgery? We’ll discuss everything about this muscle spasm in detail.
What are the symptoms of a Torn Meniscus?
You might feel normal just after the tear, even if you continue to do physical activity. But in two days, there’ll be swelling, pain, and stiffness around the knee. A significant tear can affect the knee’s range of motion, and you can’t bend it. On the contrary, a small incision will feel like a discomforting knee.
How to test a Meniscus Tear?
Below are the tests that can help you identify and treat a meniscus tear:
It is a test that is done during the physical examination of the subject. The sensitivity and specificity of this test are 0.51 and 0.78, respectively.
Joint Line Tenderness
In this test, the meniscus area is felt, and if the patient feels pain, the test is positive.
For the exactness of the result, MRI is the best option. The Magnetic Resonance Imaging confirms the tear and also determines the extent of it.
Types of Meniscus Tear
There are several types of meniscus tears; two distinct tears are degenerative and normal. Let’s find out what distinguishes the two:
Degenerative Meniscus Tear
In the MRI, degenerative tear indicates maximum fraying. Instead of one clear cut, there are multiple wounds in each direction. A surgery on such a tear can worsen the case as it can result in negative repercussions.
Normal Meniscus Tear
The younger people predominantly suffer from normal tears. The cause of such a tear is because of heavy physical activity or sports. The incision is clean and in a line, and surgery can be an option depending on other factors.
Best Physical Therapies for Meniscus Tear
All the exercises below are beneficial for recovery. But it would be best if you only perform it under the supervision of a physical therapist as the wrong technique can disrupt the recovery process.
Knee Press Ball
Take a soft knee press ball and tuck it under the knee. You should slightly bend the knee as it can be painful if you try to straighten the leg. Just press the ball with your knee slowly. Do it 100 times. It helps the extension of the knee and meniscus will recover slowly.
The exercise is to bring back the strength of the femur and meniscus. It’s an isometric exercise that can give wonderful results. Sit down on the ground and extend the legs, lie down and contract the quadriceps. Follow the steps and hold the position. Take a rest and resume the process; repeat it ten times.
The mini squats are like a regular squat, but it focuses on the muscle of the outer thighs. You have to take the stance of a traditional squat. Rest your back and head against the wall for support. Now start the bending movement and try to sit without any help. Hold this sitting position for ten seconds and repeat the process ten times. The support from the wall prevents any excessive pressure on the knee.
Can You Recover Without Surgery?
All the physical therapies above are extremely helpful in pushing the recovery pace. But if you need surgery or not, it depends on a few other factors. Without understanding all the medical prospects, surgery can do more harm than good. In some cases, a precise physical therapy regime can fix the tear in a quick session. The factors that determine the need for surgery are:
The position plays a vital role in the process. A tear in the center can slow down the recovery process. The reason is the lack of blood circulation in the middle part. The nutrients and vitamins can’t reach the tear location, so they can’t recover independently.
The severity of the tear is also crucial, as if the tear is severe, you may have to undergo surgery. An incision that isn’t deep can’t reach the meniscus and hence is stable. But if the meniscus is unstable, the surgeon will fix it to a stage where it can heal independently.
The healing process without surgery can take around 4 to 8 weeks. You can also focus on strengthening the core and glute muscle as it stabilizes the knee.
Physical Therapy or Surgery? You Decide
There are several studies on the same question, yet there is no specific answer to it. You can’t choose one option over the other as it depends on various factors. It’s better to visit an ortho expert and do the necessary test.
You can also save plenty of money as there are multiple alternatives to surgery. So, if you’re suffering from a meniscus injury, don’t go for surgery straight away. The physical surgeries in this article can help you recover, and you can ditch the surgery.