The knee meniscus describes the fibrocartilage found in between your femur (thigh bone) from the tibia (shin bone). The common name is cartilage, and every of your knee joints contains a lateral and medial meniscus. The shape of your meniscus is unique. It looks like a kidney or a wedged shape. A meniscus injury can be bad as the act, as wedge helps in stabilizing the rotational movements of the cruciate anterior ligament. Meniscus tear recovery time without surgery varies among persons, and we will look more into it as we go on. Another function of the meniscus is like that of a shock absorber. When you run, jump and walk, your knee has to absorb huge forces. The meniscus helps in this absorption, thus preventing your bone surfaces from being damaged.
The forces amount increases exponentially with increasing movement speed due to running, jumping, and walking. The meniscus also helps in dispersing compressive knee forces rather than isolate them. In younger people, the meniscus often tears from trauma, for example when a flexed knee is twisted. These types of traumatic injuries are usually sports-related. A meniscus tear can be radial, anterior or posterior or may even appear like the handle of a bucket. For older adults, meniscus tear may happen as a result of an age-related issue or when the rough femoral tears into the meniscus. This case may require surgery to repair both the damaged meniscus and the joint surface.
How To Detect Meniscus Tear
Repairing a torn meniscus might be complicated as it depends on the tear type. If the tear is large, inadequate treatment may lead to premature bony changes.
The symptoms of a torn meniscus often begin in the same manner as a painful twist on a flexed knee. But degenerative meniscus may present its symptoms slowly.
Other symptoms that may be experienced, include popping, clicking, or knee locking. These symptoms come with pain on the knee joint-most times and may be swelling of the joint too. Clinical exams may show knee joint tenderness, which is best noticed by painful squats.
Your doctor or physiotherapist will make use of clinical tests like McMurray’s test to ascertain the diagnosis of a meniscus tear. The most dependable and accurate test (non-invasive) is an MRI scan as X-rays will not show the tear.
What Is Meniscus Tear Recovery Time Without Surgery
Without surgery, the meniscus tear will usually take around eight weeks to heal fully, that is if the injury is in the red zone.you will understand what the red zone is about in the preceding paragraphs. Some meniscus tears will require surgery, your doctor will guide you on these.
People with injured meniscus are advised to avoid exercises and activities that will place the meniscus under excessive stress and delay their healing. You may have to keep your weight off the injured knee. If need be then the person will be given crutches. Every case is unique and as such will be treated as such. There is no home therapy for meniscus tear, please consult a doctor or physiotherapist to avoid worsening your condition.
The healing of meniscus tears depends on the blood supply to the meniscus, a limited one at that. Your synovial fluid and blood provide nutrition for the meniscus. And this meniscus has two regions which affect its healing ability, the white zone, and the red zone.
There is blood supplied to the red zone which means natural healing can happen there. A lateral meniscus tear can heal without surgery because of the blood supplied to it from your synovial capsule.
On the other hand, the white zone has no blood supply so it is unable to heal naturally. The inner meniscus is supplied nutrition from synovial fluid too. As a result of this, a treat to the interior part of the meniscus will not be able to heal naturally as there is no blood supply needed to trigger response to the inflammation. Surgery will be needed here to extract the torn part.
You might ask, what will go wrong if a torn meniscus is left untreated. If this is the case, the tear will deteriorate and loosen within the joint. This may cause the knee to give way or lock. Unattended to meniscus tears may with time increase its tear size and the damaged extends.
There are several physiotherapy treatment options for a meniscus tear. Researchers discovered that strengthening the muscles of your leg will reduce bone stress and improve muscle strength. This will make your knee more stable.
Physiotherapy treatment mostly aims at;
- Reducing inflammation and pain
- Normalizing the motion in your joint range
- Strengthening the knee especially your hamstrings and quadriceps
- Strengthening the lower limbs like your pelvis muscle, calves, and hip
- Improving the alignment of your patellofemoral
- Normalizing the length of your muscle and improving proprioception as well as helping to balance your technique like running, landing, hopping, walking and squatting
- Minimizes the chances of injury
Is Surgery Always Required
Most surgeons will place the patients on some weeks of physiotherapy before deciding to go for surgery. The two major benefits of pre-operative physiotherapy are
- Successful knee rehabilitation without requiring surgery
- Strengthens the knee to prepare the person better for post-operative rehabilitation
Surgeries are usually carried out arthroscopically, that is, through a fiber-optic camera. This camera is like a pencil and is used to remove or repair the torn meniscus fragment.
The best treatment option is usually to repair and save the meniscus if you can because of its role as a shock absorber. Doing this will decrease the chances of developing degenerative arthritic like changes in the future and leave your knee structures near normal.
Hopefully, your meniscus tear will not require surgery so you don’t have to go through the stressful process. Although meniscus tear recovery time without surgery is a little bit longer, you will be fine at the end of it all.