Degree of Injury
How well a meniscus tear responds to non-surgical treatments will depend on the degree of tearing. In most cases the damage is not significant enough for surgery. The following symptom patterns may give you an indication of the severity of a tear. Remember these are just general guidelines, only a medical professional can make a definitive diagnosis.
Minor meniscus tear symptoms
You will experience only minimal pain, and you are still able to walk. Some degree of swelling exists, and increased pain is experienced during squatting motions. Most of these symptoms should diminish within 2-3 weeks.
Moderate meniscus tear symptoms
Pain occurs directly at the site of the meniscus (lateral or medial). Sharp pain occurs with any type of squatting or twisting motion of the knee. Often there is considerable stiffness with this condition. If these symptoms are ignored and rehabilitation is not implemented, it could take several months to a year before they go away.
More severe meniscus tear symptoms
Immediate sharp pain is experienced, including swelling and stiffness. The patient’s knee may lock into position. The patient is often not able to straighten their knee. This is often a case for surgical intervention.
Treatment of Meniscus Injuries
Meniscus injuries can be very painful; the treatment should focus on decreasing swelling, increasing range of motion, and strengthening the knee. Active Release Techniques can be very effective in helping to achieve these goals. That is unless there is a severe tear of the meniscus; this is a case for surgical intervention.
At the initial onset of these injuries it is important to:
Rest – Avoid putting excess stress on the knee. In some cases crutches may be advisable if the injury is more severe.
Ice – Use ice on the knee for 20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours, until swelling is reduced.
Elevate – Elevating your knee will also be of benefit, place your knee on a blanket or pillow.
Compress – An elastic tensor bandage on your knee may also help to reduce swelling.
Manual therapy (including MSR, ART, Graston Techniques, and Massage therapy) is a great way to take direct or indirect tension off of the meniscus. This may involve numerous soft tissue restrictions above, below, or in direct contact with the meniscus.