Are you in the post surgery phase after meniscus injury? Comfortably lying on a sofa at home with your leg raised and a bag of ice on your knee? After meniscus surgery you got some exercises that you need to do on a regular basis. However, do you know how to proceed?
Rehabilitation after meniscus injury adheres to the outlined guidelines and only slightly deviates from individual to individual.
The most common questions that arise when we have a meniscus injury are:
Can I do exercises before knee surgery? Can I cool my knee with ice if it’s swollen? Is physiotherapy a good choice in terms of preparation for surgery? OK, the knee has been operated … What now? Can I already put a full load on my leg? What to do if the leg is still swollen?
In short – what is the meniscus?
Everyone talks about the meniscus as it is cracked, thinned, even torn. What is the meniscus anyway?
The meniscus is a C-shaped cartilaginous fibrous plate that protects the articular cartilage from heavy loads. We have two menisci in the knee. The outer (lateral) and the inner (medial). They cover a large part of the articular surface of the tibia and attach to the joint capsule.
When we talk about knee injuries, meniscus injury is almost always present as well. Sports in which there are many rotations and rapid changes of sides, further increase the likelihood of injury. These are sports like football, tennis, basketball and others.
Meniscus injury can occur by excessive external force or uncoordinated movements. Furthermore, it can happen just as an injury that accompanies more complex knee injuries. It most often occurs with the movement of:
- a fixed foot and simultaneous internal and external rotation
- and simultaneous stretching of the knee.
A spontaneous onset of meniscus problems can certainly occur, which usually cause knee arthritis.
The most common lesions of the meniscus are in the form of a basket handle (bucket handle). We also know the meniscus cracks, cysts on the medial meniscus, etc. Physiotherapist observes a typical pathological pattern of walking, location of pain, swelling, difficulty walking up stairs, loss of movement function…
Physiotherapist can test your knee with several clinical tests and see whether it is a meniscus lesion. However, the most reliable is still imaging diagnostics – magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
After the age of 50, almost all people have damaged menisci. But we don’t know about the injury until the meniscus slides out of its place or touches the innervated edge of the knee joint.
Onset of meniscus injury and measures
People know exactly when it all started when they think backwards. A fall, a strange knee movement, a blow, a snap, whatever.
For a short time after this event, most people think everything is fine. Then the knee starts swelling. Sometimes it even swells so much that they have to puncture the knee. The solution for this short period is to cool the affected part. Even walking in the post-injury period is unsafe, painful and limping.
Tip: do not delay the examination with a specialist.
What can you do before knee surgery?
There is always a phase that won’t allow you much movement. Do not force the knee to over pain movements, as the leg will be swollen as a result.
When the swelling subsides, exercises are scheduled to strengthen the front and back thigh muscles.
Don’t know the exercises? Check the best after surgery knee rehabilitation exercises.
Strengthening the muscles will contribute to a more stable joint. That in turn will reduce pain and prepare the knee for faster recovery after an operation. Read more about knee arthroscopy.
Rehabilitation after meniscus injury
In case of minor injuries, one should only rest at least 2 to 3 weeks after the injury. For all others who have had surgery, the rehabilitation phase takes a little longer. What the surgery will bring over time cannot be predicted immediately.
Physiotherapists often manage to increase knee’s range of motion. In just a few therapies leg significantly improves the function. Despite the surgical removal of part of the meniscus, many people still have various problems:
- The muscles might not contract as it used to.
- A degenerative damage to the ligaments occurs.
- Patella could be blocked patella, etc.
The leg is always loaded only to the point of pain. Swelling and pain are relieved by physiotherapy devices. That is alleviated with cooling, electrotherapy, ultrasound, Tecar therapy and magnetotherapy. Begin with proper exercises right after surgery. By doing exercises on a daily basis you strengthen the thigh muscles and stabilize the knee. Also use kinesiology tapes as soon as possible to reduce swelling.
Choose the best selection of isometric exercises after knee surgery. Perform these exercises at home on a daily basis for at least 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
Also remember to add proprioception exercises for the knee joint. They are “so called” balance exercises. Proprioceptors are receptors present in muscles, ligaments, bones, joints. They send nerve signals about how muscles should engage to stabilize joints.
You can also read a blog on how to prevent knee injuries.
Analgesic electrotherapy and muscle electrostimulator
Analgesic electrotherapy and muscle electrostimulator are crucial in rehabilitation. Electrotherapy works on the principle of door control. It stimulates the affected site causing local analgesia and prevents the inflow of pain signals to the brain.
The electrostimulator is used to stimulate the muscles to better contraction and muscle strength.
Meniscus injury can be caused by different things. Especially like excessive external force, uncoordinated movements, or just an injury that accompanies more complex knee injuries. Sports that involve a lot of rotation and rapid side changes further increase the likelihood of injury.
When you feel changes in your knee joint, seek professional help as soon as possible. Many things can be corrected even without surgery. In the initial phase with the help of a professionally trained physiotherapist a lot can be done.
Rehabilitation before or after surgery is very important. All it takes is an iron will to perform the prescribed exercises and physiotherapy visits on a daily basis.
That pain will not be an excuse!