Wellness Osteo

Wellness Osteo

At Wellness Osteo, we are osteopaths who focus on achieving optimal health and wellness, which means treating you and sharing our expertise with you. Read on for the ins and outs of osteopathy.

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Meniscus Tears

What is it

The meniscus are a rubbery cartilage band that sits in between your tibia (shin bone) and femur (thigh bone).
There is a medial meniscus (inner side of your knee) and a lateral meniscus (outside of the knee) in each knee. These structures act as shock absorbers for your knee and help stabilise your leg when we walk, run and jump.

Just like all muscles, ligaments and tendons in our body you can damage or tear the meniscus when it is subjected to more force than it can handle.
This is usually the result of a twisting or turning trauma, but can also be the result of years of degeneration and can develop slowly with no major traumatic event.
A meniscus tear can occur when the knee suddenly twists while the foot is planted on the ground.
Medial meniscus tears are much more common than lateral tears.

Symptoms

In traumatic meniscus tears, it usually happens suddenly during running, jumping or changing direction. Symptoms include: 

  • Knee swelling, tightness or stiffness
  • Difficulty walking
  • You may have pain on fully bending or twisting the knee
  • Pain along the joint line of the knee, especially with jumping and running
  • A loose piece of cartilage can get stuck in the joint, causing the knee to temporarily lock, preventing full extension (straightening) of the leg.

The degree of injury can be classified from Grade 1, Grade 2 or Grade 3 meniscus tears:

  • Grade 1 Meniscus strain involves damage to a small number of fibres, causing localised pain but only minimal loss of strength and minimal restriction of motion.
  • Grade 2 injury is a tear of a significant number of meniscus fibres causing pain and swelling that compromises strength of the joint but does not include complete loss of strength and function.
  • Grade 3 injury is a complete rupture of the meniscus and complete loss of muscle function. This Grade may require surgery to repair.

To determine which grade of a meniscus tear you have done, an MRI is required.

Treatment/Management 

In the first 72 hours of a meniscus injury it is important to stay off the knee and try to reduce the inflammation. Keep the leg elevated, use compression garments around the knee and take anti-inflammatory drugs.
Once you have made it through the first 72 hours then we must try to get the knee moving within pain limits. If that is just bending and straightening the knee as much as is comfortable that’s ok. If you can walk pain free then that is encouraged as early as possible. A grade 1 or 2 tear will actually heal better if some force is applied through the knee, but not so much that it is causing extra pain. 

The next stage involves restoring full range of motion through the knee. Being able to fully bend and straighten the knee with no pain. Your osteopath can assist with this through manual therapy. 

After we have full pain free range of motion back through the knee, then we want to move on to strengthening the muscles around the knee to sure up the joint. Quadricep strengthening is the most important aspect of this phase, but we want to increase the strength of the hamstrings, hips and calves as well.

Osteopaths at Wellness Osteo have the skills to give you a personalised exercise rehab program to help you through the next few weeks, with most people able to return to sport 6-10 weeks after the initial injury.