A meniscus tear is a common injury in sports and is a rupture of the fibrocartilage strips in the knee known as the menisci. Often this is simply referred to as ‘torn cartilage’ and can occur as a result of walking, squatting or through trauma if you are kicked in the knee or fall over. In other cases damage can occur simply over time and this is called a ‘degenerative tear’.
The symptoms are usually pain and swelling in the knee joint and sometimes clicking and crunching noises during mechanical movements of the knee. Usually when there is no load on the joint or no exertion there is no pain.
Depending on the severity of the issue you may require surgery to help you recover from torn cartilage. However you might also be given a range of exercises to complete by your physiotherapist and these are likely to include the following:
Passive Knee Extensions: If you cannot straighten your knee then this is a good way to gently achieve that end. Simply lie on a flat surface like a bed or the floor, and place a towel underneath your heel with it rolled up into the ball. Now you are going to simply allow for gravity to gently act on your leg straightening out your knee.
Standing Calf Stretch: Stand in front of a wall using your hands to stabilize yourself and then put one foot back behind you with your heel on the floor and your other foot on the floor (you’ve probably seen footballers and runners do it). Move your back foot backwards gradually with the foot pointing slightly inward until you feel a gentle stretch up the calf. Perform on both sides.
Heel Slide: Here you are going to sit on a firm and preferably slippery surface with your legs straight in front of you – if you have wooden flooring in your kitchen for instance that will work wonders. Now just slide the heel of the damaged leg inwards toward your buttocks and pull your knee toward your chest. Repeat for several repetitions.
Squats: Gently performing squats using a Swiss ball between your back and the wall to stabilize yourself is a good way to build the supporting muscles in the area and return movement to the joint.
Wobble Board: Simply balancing on a wobble board and attempting to roll it around while using your legs to keep it stable is a good way to rebuild the stabilizing capabilities of the knee joints. Of course you shouldn’t do this if you are experiencing too much discomfort and falling off could lead to injury.
Resisted Terminal Knee Extensions: Loop a resistance band around the lower portion of your injured leg and trap the other end in a door. Now facing the door simply bend the injured knee and lift it off the ground while gently pulling against the resistance.
Straight Leg Raise: Straight leg raises mean lying on the floor on your back with one knee bent and then extending the other knee (the damaged one) up straight in front of you keeping it straight at all times.