Meniscus repair: why is physiotherapy important after a meniscus repair?

meniscus unique physio can help

The meniscus is disc shaped cartilage within the knee that helps to stabilise and cushion the joint. The meniscus can become damaged and may tear. This often occurs with twisting or direct force such as within sport. In some cases, surgical intervention may be suggested to manage a meniscal tear.

What is a meniscus repair? What are the different types? 

A meniscus repair aims to restore as much function of the knee as possible by removing damaged tissue and restoring healthy tissue. In some cases, the damage may be too severe to repair and as a result, full removal of the meniscus will need to occur.

There are 3 main types of meniscal surgery:

  1. Meniscectomy – removal of the damaged meniscus, leaving as much healthy tissue as possible in place within the knee.
  2. Meniscal repair – the torn area is reconnected using sutures, reattaching one side to the other.
  3. Meniscus transplant – this is where a cadaver donated meniscus is used to replace the damaged meniscus. This is most likely when the meniscus has previously been removed or is extremely damaged.

In most cases, meniscal surgery is performed via arthroscopy – small incisions are made within the knee, to insert small cameras and instruments. The surgeon will discuss these options with you and decide the best surgery for your case.

What muscles are important to target with exercise?

Some of the muscles that are important to target with training include the muscles of the leg. The muscles in the front and the back of the leg are important in straightening and bending the leg, and would be a main focus in your exercise rehabilitation. These muscles are called the quadriceps and hamstrings. The calves (lower leg) would also be important to target as they can help with walking as soon as possible.

“I am scared that exercise will hurt my knee”. What should I do?

It is important to understand that pain is expected and normal but can be managed. It is also quite expected to feel a little bit fearful with exercise, as you might not know what to expect in the initial stages. However, if we keep the exercises graded and within your tolerances, this would be very helpful to your recovery. 

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Your Dr may have prescribed painkillers to use, take these as prescribed to control the pain. You can also self-manage pain by using ice and pacing with regular rest breaks. It is beneficial to gradually build exercise as tolerated and try to maintain movement in small, manageable pieces.

What can physiotherapy look like for me?

Depending on your previous level of participation and goals, physiotherapy can differ. If you are looking to return to day to day function, physiotherapy will help you regain the ability to complete functional tasks and can be catered to your goals e.g. return to work.

For those looking to return to sport, a specific programme will be tailored to the demands of the sport you wish to return to.

The initial stages of rehabilitation will look similar for everyone. In most cases, in the initial weeks your knee will be stabilised within a brace. The main aims will be to reduce swelling, regain range of movement and return to normal walking pattern. Later stages of rehab will aim improve strength and regain functional ability.

If you have a meniscus injury and would like further information on conservative management, pre-op or post op rehabilitation, please get in contact and one of our Physiotherapists or Exercise Physiologists will be very happy to help.

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