Torn meniscus physical therapy: 5 techniques it commonly includes

torn meniscus physical therapy

Your knees carry nearly your entire body when you’re standing, and 1 1/2 times your body weight when you walk. It’s important to be proactive about treatment when you’re experiencing pain and reduced mobility in your knee.

There are many ways that your knee can sustain damage, including a torn meniscus. When you experience this type of injury, it’s important to determine the best treatment option that will get you back on your feet and back to your normal physical activities. That’s why physical therapy should be the first course of action.

We’ll go over the basics of a torn meniscus, how physical therapy can help and common techniques that may be part of your treatment plan. 

The basics of a torn meniscus

There’s a piece of cartilage in your knee known as your meniscus that’s located between your shinbone and thighbone. There are two menisci in each knee and they work as a cushion and shock absorber between the bones. A meniscus tear is a common injury, with more than 500,000 cases every year in the U.S.

A meniscus tear occurs when there’s excessive pressure on the knee or it’s forcefully rotated. A torn meniscus is often a sports injury that can occur when an athlete twists their knee while trying to pivot or quickly accelerate. The risk is higher for individuals who play sports that require quick changes of movement, such as basketball, football and tennis. 

Symptoms of a torn meniscus include:

  • Pain.
  • Swelling.
  • Reduced range of motion.
  • Instability.
  • Feeling like your knee is locking.

The benefits of torn meniscus physical therapy

There are a variety of treatment options that you can test out to alleviate your torn meniscus symptoms, but physical therapy should be one of the first courses of action.

The goal of treating a torn meniscus is to decrease the pain while restoring your mobility. That means that your treatment options should provide both pain management and improved overall quality of the joint. That’s where physical therapy comes in.

Torn meniscus physical therapy can provide benefits including:

  • Reduced pain.
  • Accelerated recovery.
  • Improved range of motion.
  • Increased knee strength and flexibility.
  • Improved balance and stability.
  • Decreased reliance on pain medication.
  • Reduced risk of future re-injury.

It’s important to note that while some meniscus tears can heal on their own with the help of physical therapy, some tears might require surgery.

5 common torn meniscus physical therapy techniques

If you’ve never had physical therapy before, it can be a bit nerve-wracking if you don’t know what to expect. That’s why we’re going to discuss a few torn meniscus physical therapy techniques that are normally found in a personalized treatment plan. 

Your physical therapist will determine the severity of your tear so that they can determine which treatment options will be the safest and most effective for you. While most of the go-to techniques involve guided exercises, there are also manual therapy options that can help.

Here are five techniques that torn meniscus physical therapy commonly includes:

  • Stretching — One of the best ways to help your knee along the healing process is by stretching. Your physical therapist will show you stretches that can help decrease swelling and pain, such as straight leg raises.
  • Range-of-motion exercises — Since reduced mobility is one of the most common torn meniscus symptoms, it’s important that you slowly restore the joint’s range of motion. With proper therapeutic exercises, such as heel slides, your physical therapist can improve your knee’s overall function and mobility.
  • Muscle performance exercises — Improving the muscles surrounding your torn meniscus is key to improving your stability and reducing the risk of future injury. A physical therapist will walk you through the safest and most effective way to strengthen your knee muscles.
  • Balance and coordination exercises — When your knee is unstable due to a torn meniscus, it can affect your balance in coordination, increasing your risk for a fall and further injury. A physical therapist can show you exercises that will improve your balance and make it safer to move around as your knee heals.
  • Joint mobilization — A physical therapist will often use their hands for manual therapy techniques to improve your knee’s range of motion. They can gently move the joint around to loosen up the restricting soft tissue to alleviate the pain and increase mobility.

Whatcom Physical Therapy has many torn meniscus physical therapy techniques that can help your pain

When you have a torn meniscus, physical therapy is one of the best ways to alleviate the pain and get you back on your feet. With techniques like therapeutic exercises and manual therapy, we can help decrease your symptoms so that you don’t have to worry about wincing from the pain with every step.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.