In the last few months, we have seen a few meniscus injuries come through the clinic. In this blog I will run through some common tests and questions that I like to ask during our initial assessments, and what the plan and rehabilitation tends to look like for our clients.
What are Meniscus Injuries?
The meniscus is a rubbery, wedge-shaped cartilage in your knee that acts as a shock absorber, cushioning the joint and helping it move smoothly. These two C-shaped cushions sit between the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia). Meniscus injuries happen when these cushions tear. The most typical cause is a forceful twist of the knee, often during sports or activities that involve sudden movements.
When a client comes through the clinic and explains that they are experiencing knee pain, the first thing we like to ask is the location and distribution of pain. For the meniscus, they will tend to describe pain around the patellofemoral joint line and pain with end-range flexion (bending the knee) or extension (straightening the knee). There will be often be swelling around the knee (more pronounced on the inside of the knee) and sometimes describe pain behind the knee. They may have experienced a popping/locking sensation and have difficulty/pain with weight bearing. It is important to ask about their previous injury history, the type of mechanism as contact or non-contact.
A common functional assessment that we like to assess is a duck walk/childress test. This is where someone gets down into a deep squat position whilst on their toes and proceeds to walk forward like a duck. As they shift their weight forward in a maximally flexed position, their is an axial load and rotation that will often irritate/reproduce symptoms for someone presenting with a meniscal injury.
Duck Walk/Childress Test
If you can’t walk like a duck then there is typically some form of structural pathology in the knee, that may be meniscus or potentially an ACL injury. On top of this there are also a few cluster tests for the meniscus which are called McMurrays/Apleys/Thessalys all of which can be used to help us rule out/in a potential meniscus injury.
It is important to note that imaging, particularly an MRI might be recommended and is required to confirm the diagnosis and extent of the injury.
Treatment and Management:
The treatment plan for a meniscus injury depends on various factors, including the severity of the tear, your age, activity level, and overall health. Here’s what you might expect:
Non-Surgical Management: If the tear is minor or in a location with good blood supply, we might recommend a conservative approach. This could involve a combination of relative rest, ice for pain management, compression and elevation for stability and swelling. We will also guide you through specific exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and stability in your knee. These exercises are tailored to your individual needs and might involve movements like leg raises, squats, and gentle passive range of motion at the knee to reduce stiffness.
It may also include interventions such as manual therapy, to improve joint mobility and provide pain relief to the surrounding structures.
Surgical Management: If the injury is extensive or causing persistent symptoms, your physiotherapist we may refer you to a doctor for a surgical consultation. Some meniscus tears require surgical intervention, especially if they hinder daily activities, or if conservative methods aren’t effective.
The Road to Recovery
Remember that the road to recovery from a meniscus injury takes time and patience. At BeFit Physio we will guide you through exercises and treatments that gradually restore your knee’s strength and function. If you suspect a meniscus injury or any other knee injury for that matter, give us a call or book online!
Jamie Cheok – BeFit Training Physio Coogee
Jamie Cheok is a physiotherapist based in Coogee in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Jamie has successfully treated musculoskeletal problems on the basis of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with evidence-based rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs and goals of each individual. To book a consultation, click the link below.