Knee meniscus injuries

I’m Andy, a physiotherapist from CCHN. In October 2020, I injured my right knee in a social basketball game. I went to see a physiotherapist on the second day and was diagnosed as right knee lateral meniscus tear. I was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon and had arthroscopy surgery to repair it. With the help of physiotherapy after surgery, I gradually went back to my daily life and social sports again.

What is a meniscus?

The meniscus is two pieces of cartilage in the knee that stabilize and cushion the joint. They protect the bones from tears and wear. One meniscus is on the inner side of the knee (medial meniscus) and the other meniscus is on the outer side of the knee.

What does a meniscus tear feel like?

You might have:

  • Pain (especially when twisting the knee)
  • Swelling
  • Clicking sound in straightening and bending the knee
  • Difficulty in straightening and bending knee fully
  • A tendency to get knee locked in place
  • Feeling of the knee giving way
  • Poor toleration in squatting and kneeling
What causes the meniscus tear?
  • Degenerative meniscal tear:

These injuries occur in the absence of trauma due to everyday activities and the age of the person.

  • Traumatic meniscal tear:

The most common mechanism of injury is rotating and twisting on a weight-bearing knee.

  • Acute tears: These injuries are commonly caused by a trauma or a sports injury (basketball, soccer, tennis…).
  • Chronic tears: These injuries usually occur in elderly people who had minimal trauma or stress on the knee.
Physiotherapy treatment for a meniscus tear

Physiotherapy treatment can usually benefit a small meniscus tear in the region with blood supply. If the meniscus injury requires surgical repair, physiotherapy can also help with the pre-surgery maintenance and post-surgery rehab.

Physiotherapy treatment can help:

  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Regain knee range of motion
  • Strengthen the muscles for shock-absorption
  • Improve the proprioception and balance to provide dynamical stability
  • Improve lower limb alignment
  • Minimise the chance of re-injury
What may happen if a torn meniscus is not treated?

Deterioration will happen in an untreated meniscus torn which can result in knee locking or giving way.

How long does it take to recover from a meniscus injury?

The meniscal tear will usually take up to six or eight weeks to fully heal if it can be managed conservatively. However, everyone is different and need to be guided by the physiotherapist.