Before treating meniscal tears, it is helpful to know the location of the tear. Tears on the outer area of the meniscus have an abundant blood supply and may be able to heal on their own. Tears on the inner area of the meniscus are devoid of blood supply and are not able to heal. Meniscal tears in this area may have to be treated surgically. Tears that do not require surgery can be treated with the RICE protocol. This involves using rest, ice, compression, and elevation to allow the tear to heal. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin may be taken to reduce pain and inflammation.
In cases where surgery is necessary, an arthroscopic procedure may be done. In a partial meniscectomy, the injured portions of the meniscus are trimmed away. If meniscus repair is possible, torn areas of the tissue can be sutured back together. Recovery from meniscus repair generally takes longer than recovery from a partial meniscectomy. Following surgery, physical therapy will be prescribed to return strength, stability, and function to the affected knee.
3. Physical Therapy Following a Meniscus Tear
According to the Cleveland Clinic, physical therapy following arthroscopic surgery for the meniscus has three phases. The first phase involves exercises that help the patient achieve balance and coordination following surgery. The second phase concentrates on helping patients regain knee strength and a full range of motion. Patients may use bicycle exercises during this phase to aid in straightening and flexing the knee. The third phase occurs when the patient is ready to return to their normal activities.