Tearing your meniscus is one of the most common ways to injure your knee and sometimes simply going about your day-to-day life can cause a torn meniscus.
If your knee twists or rotates with too much force whilst weight is being put on it, resulting in the cartilage being torn which can take weeks or even months to completely heal.
What Is A Meniscus Tear?
Even though it is not always painful, a torn meniscus can make you immobile as it swells and makes your knee less stable.
Your knee may also start to lock when you use it and give way with osteoarthritis also being at risk of developing.
Depending on how severe the injury is and how you are coping with the symptoms, your doctor will come up with a treatment plan to follow for a quicker recovery.
If the person with a torn meniscus is quite young, then they might need to get surgery to correct the injury or else it may turn into a chronic knee problem.
One of the things that the doctor will likely recommend is physical therapy exercises which will help strengthen the knee and speed up the recovery process.
Exercises To Do If You Have A Torn Meniscus
Only around 10% of meniscal rips in people over the age of 40 can be healed. This is frequently due to tissue degradation affecting the blood supply to the cartilage, making recovery after surgery less probable.
Physical therapy activities do not always cure the meniscus, but they can help to avoid stiffness.
These exercises also assist to strengthen and stabilize the muscles around the knee.
Mini squats are great for strengthening your quadriceps which builds the muscle and supports the knee joint.
To do this exercise, start off in a standing position with your back, head, and shoulders against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and about one foot from the wall.
Next, bend your knees a bit so that your backside is brought closer to the ground and stop when you are sitting at a 15-degree angle – you should start to feel your thighs start to burn within a few seconds.
You do not want to put too much pressure on your knees, so you should make sure you are not squatting too deeply which you will know that you are doing if your thighs and the floor are parallel.
When you are in the correct position, hold it for about 10 seconds before slowly sliding yourself back up the wall to reach the standing position you started in.
If you can, repeat this exercise eight to 10 times with a 30-second rest between each repetition.
Straight Leg Raise
Doing straight leg raises will help you strengthen your quadriceps and stretch your hamstrings as well as the muscles that go all the way up your leg.
To do these straight leg raises, get into a lying position on the floor with your left foot flat on the floor and the right leg stretched out.
The next thing to do is tighten your thigh muscles by flexing your right foot and slowly lifting your right leg off of the floor until it is at a 45-degree angle with both of the knees reaching the same height.
Repeat this about 25 times before doing the same thing on the left side.
Quadriceps setting is an isometric exercise that strengthens the muscles in the front of the thigh.
Place your feet on the ground and stretch your legs in front of you. If you like, you may also lie flat.
Concentrate on tightening or contracting your quadriceps. You may do this by picturing yourself pushing the back of your knee on the floor. For 10 to 20 seconds, hold the muscular contraction.
Repeat this exercise 10 times more and then rest for 30 seconds to one minute before repeating the process.
This workout can be done while seated, so you can do it nearly anyplace. Try to do a set at least twice a day.
Place your feet flat on the floor and sit on a firm chair or bench. Straighten your right leg by flexing your right foot and lifting it off the floor.
You should be able to feel the muscles at the front of your thigh contracting.
Slowly return your foot to its initial position. Repeat this 10 times on the right side, then 10 times on the left. You can also try this exercise with pointed toes if you prefer the extra stretch.
Doing clams will target your hip abductors which strengthen the gluteus minimus and gluteus medius muscles.
Start off with lying down on the side that is not injured with your hips stacked on top of one another, engage your core, and keep your knees at a 45-degree angle.
Use your lower arm under your head to rest your head on and use your other arm to keep yourself stable.
Stack your feet on top of each other all throughout this exercise and carefully raise your knee that is on top as much as possible without moving any other part of your body.
Then, slowly take your knee back down to its starting position. It is best to do two to three sets of this exercise with 12 repetitions per set.
If you are finding this exercise too easy, you can try incorporating a resistance band by putting it around your thighs.
Standing Heel Raises
This exercise develops the soleus muscles and gastrocnemius muscles, which form the calf muscles.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands lightly resting on a chair or counter for support. Slowly rise so that you are on the balls of your feet with your heels slightly lifted off of the floor.
Lift your heels off the floor slowly and rise onto the balls of your feet.
Pause at the apex before softly lowering your heels to the ground. Perform two to three sets of eight to 10 repetitions each set.
To maintain balance, tighten your gluteus muscles. Maintain a neutral stance for your ankles to avoid them from rolling towards the outside margins of your feet.
This exercise works the muscles on the back of your thighs. If you have knee pain, reduce the amount of time you bend your knee. If the discomfort persists, discontinue the workout.
Lie down on your stomach, legs straight. You can support your head using your arms. Slowly bend your knee and elevate your damaged side's foot toward your buttocks. Then, return your foot to the floor slowly.
Perform two to three sets of eight to 10 repetitions each set.
Exercises to Stay Away From When You Have a Torn Meniscus
When you have a meniscus tear, your doctor will normally advise you not to do particular workouts. These workouts might put undue strain on an already unstable knee.
The exercises you should avoid doing involve deep squats, pivoting, and twisting because this puts a lot of strain and pressure on your knees. You should not do any exercises if they hurt your knee whilst doing them.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From a Torn Meniscus?
It depends on how severe your torn meniscus is as well as your age and overall body condition as to how long it will take to recover.
For most people, it will take about four to six weeks for the injury to heal but if you need surgery, this recovery time will be longer.
Before you try doing physiotherapy for your knee injury, there are steps that you will have to take first which will ensure that you do not damage your knee even more before it has the chance to recover.
For several days after you injure your knee, you must not use it too much as this prevents the tissues from being able to heal.
Rest your knee as much as you can during this period, you may even benefit from using crutches or a knee brace to take the strain off of it.
As well as resting your knee, you should also use a cloth-covered ice pack on your knee to reduce the swelling.
Hold the ice to your knee for no more than 15 minutes at a time then take it off for 20 minutes before putting it back on.
Compressing your knee is another way to help reduce the swelling along with ice.
Finally, keep your knee elevated so that the blood and fluid are redirected back to the heart instead of to the knee which will prevent swelling.
Your healthcare professional might also prescribe you anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen.
After about a week of resting and controlling the swelling, you should be given the clear to start the physical therapy exercises.
Physical therapy exercises that target the quadriceps and hamstrings, for example, can reduce stiffness and improve discomfort.
If non-surgical methods of pain and discomfort relief are insufficient, see your doctor about surgical possibilities.