Your meniscus is a crescent-shaped pad made of cartilage and muscle fibers in each knee. They are located between the thigh bone (called the femur) and the shin bone of your lower leg (called the tibia). The main function of the meniscus is to:
- Distribute the weight on the knee during running and walking
- Stabilize the knee when there’s rotation
- Lubricate the joint
If you have a torn meniscus, we want to let you know how to recover from a meniscus recovery tear without surgery, along with the recovery time for this treatment option.
What Is a Meniscus Tear?
A meniscus tear is an injury that happens due to the twisting motions that are common in football, soccer, basketball and tennis. It also occurs in older patients whose meniscus has started to degenerate and is more likely to tear when twisted.
What Are the Symptoms of a Torn Meniscus?
Initially, you may not feel any pain after the tear, even if you continue playing your sport. But after one or two days, there will be pain, swelling of the knee and stiffness. If the tear is long, it can stop you from bending your knee properly and cause the knee to get “locked.” On the other hand, a small tear may just seem like you have an unstable knee.
When you visit our practice, we’ll examine you carefully to know whether you have a meniscus tear or not. We’ll do a physical examination of your knee and an imaging study with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound.
What Are Non-Surgical Options for Treating a Torn Meniscus?
Patients frequently ask:
Can you rehab a torn meniscus without surgery?
The answer is “yes,” but that’s only if the tear is not a very long one.
For a stable knee, the first type of therapy for a meniscus tear is to avoid activities that cause pain. Then, apply ice to your knee for 15 minutes at four-hour intervals and lift the knee above your heart.
To reduce pain and protect the knee, we may recommend using crutches with a leg cuff. This helps reduce twisting or bending.
The next aspect of non-surgical treatment is physical therapy. Our physical therapist takes you through exercises that strengthen the hamstring muscles and quadriceps. Usually, for minor tears, all you need is muscle strengthening and supervised physical therapy. Your knee will function normally after the inflammation diminishes.
What Is the Meniscus Tear Recovery Time Without Surgery?
Ordinarily, you’ll be asked to reduce your sports activities while your meniscus tear heals. This could take about 4 – 8 weeks. However, the time depends on the severity and position of the tear. During this period, you should do strength training to strengthen your core and glute muscles. This enables you to have better control of your femur while you run.
Remember to consult your doctor before you resume full athletic activities. You should also have another imaging test to help confirm that your meniscus has been fully restored.