Knee injuries can be complicated, but one of the most common types our experts at Orthocenter see is the meniscus tear. Regardless of the overall treatment approach that’s most appropriate for you, you’re most likely going to need rehabilitation to allow your torn meniscus to heal properly.
Each of your knees has two bits of cartilage, called menisci, that connect the bones of your lower leg to those of your upper leg. Each meniscus works as a shock absorber and stabilizer. The menisci protect your knee joint, and a torn meniscus causes pain immediately. It can also lead to problems in the future.
Meniscus tears are often sports-related injuries, occurring when you twist or rotate your knee. Additionally, you’re more likely to have a torn meniscus if you’re more than 30 years old because, over time, cartilage becomes thinner, weaker, and less resilient.
The best treatment for a meniscus tear depends on several factors, such as where the meniscus is torn, your age and overall health, your goals, and several other considerations. Our providers evaluate your whole situation before suggesting treatment options.
Conservative treatment means letting the tear heal, without surgical intervention, and sometimes that’s the most appropriate approach. However, surgery may be the best way to prevent arthritis or other problems in the future. Regardless of whether you have surgery or your doctor suggests conservative treatment, you need rehabilitation.
When you tear your meniscus, you may not be able to straighten your leg, and you have to stop activities for some time. The muscles that surround your knee become weaker and you lose your full range of motion.
Rehabilitation helps you to recover the strength, mobility, and flexibility of your knee joint, which means you can return to your normal activities. Usually, rehab focuses on strengthening your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves — the major muscle groups in your legs.
The classic RICE paradigm — rest, ice, compression, and elevation — is also usually part of meniscus tear rehab. RICE is important throughout your recovery, and our staff provides instructions on how often to apply ice, how tightly to compress your knee with a bandage, and what proper elevation looks like. You may also need an anti-inflammatory medication such as naproxen or ibuprofen.
The length of time it takes for you to recover from a meniscus tear depends on how severe the tear is, as well as your age and other factors. Most patients see improvement in 4-6 weeks following the injury, but if you need surgery, it may take longer.
If you have questions about what kind of rehabilitation you need following a meniscus tear, book an appointment at Orthocenter. We have locations in Red Bank, Morganville, Marlboro Township, and Holmdel, New Jersey. Simply call the one that’s most convenient for you to schedule an appointment. You can also send a message to the team here on our website.