Meniscal Injuries

The meniscus is a cartilage structure within the knee. Its function is to help to reduce friction, improve shock absorption and improve the fit (congruence) of the bones within the joint. This structure is commonly injured and can result in pain, absence from sport and pain with activities of daily living. The most common way this structure is injured is by twisting the knee with a planted foot. The meniscus can also become frayed and injured through general wear and tear and the degeneration process.

Signs and symptoms

Following a meniscal injury the patient will often report a build-up of swelling and pain over a period of 24 hours. They will often have tenderness along the sides of the knee and can experience a painful clicking with knee movements. Sometimes the knee will also 'lock', that is when the patient is unable to fully straighten or bend the knee. The patient may also complain of a feeling of instability in the knee during daily activities or sport.

How physiotherapy can help

In the acute phase following a meniscal injury, physiotherapy can be helpful in providing and accurate diagnosis and in managing the painful symptoms. Some minor meniscal injuries can be managed conservatively, that is through physiotherapy treatment and prescription of appropriate exercises. Others may need to go on to have surgery. This is often arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery and has a quick recovery time. Post-operatively, physiotherapy is very helpful in helping the patient return to full strength, range of movement, activities of daily life and sports. The general recovery time following meniscal surgery is between 2-3 months.