Knee Pain – Meniscus Tears

basketball injury and sports medicine physiotherapist in oakville doing online or virtual physiotherapy

When someone has a Physiotherapy appointment after a sudden knee injury and knee pain the physio will perform a thorough assessment. This assessment, based on the presenting symptoms will help the physio in guiding the treatment plan.

Some referring practitioners will advise patients to wait to begin physio after a sudden injury, but in reality this is an important time to begin treatment. A large part of what a physiotherapist provides at this stage is education and exercise appropriate for the stage of injury. This possibly comes from ignorance of the knowledge a Physio possess and how they treat.

It should never be a one size fits all approach.

Long past are the days of bed rest and immobilization. If there is no reason to suspect a bone break, your physiotherapist will get you moving and teach you how to support and protect your injury. This helps prevent joint stiffness and muscle atrophy. It also support tissue healing.

Meniscus tears are one of the most common knee injuries we see.

What is a Meniscus?

Your meniscus are cartilage cushions in your knee. They are located on the top of your shin bone (tibia) and support your femoral condyles (thigh bone). The meniscus are wedge shaped pieces of cartilage and act to help absorb shock. They also work with the knee ligaments to keep your knee stable.

Don’t worry though! You muscles and other structures also help them act like shock absorbers and stabilizers! You can see how having strong and reactive muscles can help support your knee joint also.

Acute vs Chronic Meniscus Tear:

A meniscus tear can happen from a sudden injury, or from degenerative changes. Tears are names after the location and direction of the tear.

When a meniscus is injured suddenly in a situation like a fall or sports related contact, it is common for other structures in the knee to be injured as well. Acute meniscus tears can happen without contact with a fall or direction change. They can also happen with contact such as a dog hitting your knee, knee on knee contact, or a tackle.

“Chronic” meniscus tears are more likely to occur as we get older. They can occur in a variety of ways.

Showing a man doing video / virtual physio for injuries from a car accident / whiplash and low back pain.

Surgery and Meniscus Tears:

Orthopaedic surgeons look at many things when deciding whether a meniscal tear is best managed surgically. Younger patients with acute tears often will do better than older patients. Another factor is where the tear is in the meniscus. The outer portion of the meniscus has a better blood supply and therefore has a better chance of a successful repair.

Surgery is less commonly recommended for chronic or degenerative meniscus tears with non mechanical symptoms. This is because outcomes in this population post surgery are not different than conservative measures. Read more here. A structured physio program works well in this population to avoid surgery.

Physio and Meniscus Tears?

Whether surgery for a meniscal tear is an option of not, a physiotherapy treatment is a part of recovery at all stages of this injury.

Physiotherapy treatment varies depending on the person. After a knee injury a physiotherapist can help you function better and navigate your environment with more ease. The rest of your body isn’t injured, a physio will help you find ways to maintain strength and function elsewhere for a smooth transition back to activity and sport and for health purposes.

patient doing strengthening and physio after knee surgery in north Oakville physio clinic

You may see your physio at the below stages:

  • Post injury – acute
  • Knee pain – chronic
  • “Pre-hab” – pre surgical readiness
  • Post surgery
  • Return to sport / activity

Your Physio will work with you to have a treatment plan in place based on your injury and goals. This will likely include:

  • Range of motion exercises.
  • Local movement and strengthening exercises.
  • Global movement and strengthening exercises.

As your body recovers and gets stronger, your program should be modified as well.

If you have knee pain or a knee injury our physiotherapists are here for you. We are here to help get you moving and back to the activities you love.

Contact us to book with one of our awesome North Oakville Physio’s! We see patients from Oakville, Burlington, Milton and Mississauga as well as virtually from all over Ontario!