If you think that meniscus tear treatment can only be done by surgery, you’ll want to read this. Meniscus tear treatment without surgery is very well possible in most cases.


The meniscus tear recovery time without surgery is about 2 months and the meniscus tear recovery time after surgery is somewhere between 1 and 3 months.

Also, a recent study shows that after 1 year there is no significant difference between surgery and physical therapy.

And today I’ll show you exactly how you can treat your meniscus yourself with a few simple exercises.

First, I’ll explain to you what a meniscus is and what it does. Also, I’ll describe what causes a meniscus tear en what you have to do to treat it yourself.

So regardless of what your orthopedic surgeon might tell you, you should always try to recover your meniscus injury without surgery. Surgery will always be your last resort.

Here you will find everything you need to know about meniscus tear treatment.

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In fact, this is what you will learn today:

What is a meniscus and what does it do?
What are the causes of a meniscus tear?
What are torn meniscus symptoms?
How can I perform a meniscus tear test myself?
What is the difference between a torn meniscus and the patellofemoral pain syndrome?
What can and can’t I do with a meniscus tear?
How do I know if my meniscus tear can recover without surgery?
What does a meniscus tear treatment without surgery looks like?

What is a meniscus and what does it do?

meniscus

source: webmd.com

To understand how the meniscus tear treatment without surgery works, you need to know what a meniscus is and what his function in the knee is.

The meniscus is a c-shaped cartilage disc in the knee. The knee contains 2 menisci: the lateral meniscus and the medial meniscus.

As you can see in the picture, the shape of these menisci is different. This is because of the different shape of the top of your tibia or shinbone. Your medial meniscus is bigger than your lateral meniscus.


The function of the meniscus is to increase the stability of your knee. Naturally, your tibia and femur don’t really fit together.

This is because your tibia is flat where your femur is more round shaped. The function of your meniscus is to eliminate these shape differences. The bottom of your femur fits perfectly in the holes that are formed by your menisci.

The second function of your menisci is shock absorption. Shock absorption in the knee is very important to protect the underlying cartilage in the knee. Forces affecting your knee during running or climbing stairs are very big. Without your menisci your cartilage would be damaged very easily, leading to a higher risk of Osteoarthritis. We will discuss this later when we cover the different surgery options.

Another difference between the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus is that the medial meniscus is attached to the medial collateral ligament. This holds your medial meniscus firmly into place. This is the reason that a torn medial meniscus is more common than a torn lateral meniscus.

Research shows that only the outer 30% of the meniscus contains blood vessels. These blood vessels are necessary for the nutrients of your meniscus in case there is damage that needs to be repaired.


The rest of the meniscus gets its nutrients from the synovial fluid. Most of your joints contain this fluid inside the joint capsule.

The synovial fluid keeps your joint mobile.

Your meniscus gets these nutrients through diffusion. For this diffusion to happen it is important that you apply pressure and relaxation on your knee on a regular base.

The best way to do this in by cycling on an exercise bike. How this works is something I will explain to you later on this page.

knee brace knee brace penetrex

What are the causes of a meniscus tear?

There are 3 common meniscus tear causes that we’ll explain now.

Usually, it happens when playing sports where you have to turn or twist quickly. When you turn but your foot stays put on the ground, forces on your meniscus get really high. Especially when your knee is also bent, you can easily tear your meniscus.


meniscusklachtenAlso when you bump your knee, you can damage your meniscus. Bumping your knee almost always happens when your knee is slightly bent. When your knee is bent, your meniscus becomes more prominent in your knee, especially your medial meniscus.

You can apply indirect pressure on your meniscus when your knee is bend. So when you bend your knee it’s easier to damage your meniscus.

Another common cause of a meniscus tear is lifting heavy weights. When you lift heavy weights, pressure on your meniscus gets really high, up to five times the actual weight your lifting. When your meniscus is already worn out because of your age or a previous tear, this weight can cause new damage.

Being overweight may also cause a meniscus tear. Due to the extra weight on your knees, your meniscus gets worn out faster. This may cause a meniscus tear over time.

The last common cause of a meniscus tear is when you bend your knee suddenly and extremely. This often happens when you fall on the ground because of a misstep. Because of the extreme bending of your knee, your meniscus gets compressed between your tibia and femur. This can damage your meniscus.

The incidence of a medial meniscus tear is greater than of a lateral meniscus tear. This is because the medial meniscus is attached to the medial collateral ligament, where the lateral meniscus can move freely. Because the medial meniscus is can’t move freely, it can’t be pushed away by the forces that are applied. Therefore compression increases causing a tear in the end. This is the main reason why a medial meniscus tear happens more often than a lateral meniscus tear.

What are torn meniscus symptoms?

The torn meniscus symptoms depend on the location and the size of the tear. We can divide a torn meniscus into 3 different types, each with their own symptoms.

meniscus tearWith a minor tear, you have slight pain and swelling. You can walk without much pain and are only slightly limited in your daily life. A minor tear is often caused by bumping your knee. This slightly damages your meniscus on the outside, where recovery is generally very good.

A moderate tear can cause pain at the side or center of your knee. Often swelling of your knee occurs in the first 2-3 days after injury. This type of injury is often caused by heavy lifting. Walking is painful but possible. Also bending your knee can be limited and your knee can feel stiff in the morning or after sitting for a long time. Also twisting your knee can cause a sudden stinging/ sharp pain in your knee. This type of damage usually recovers within 4-6 weeks with exercises.


When you experience a severe tear a piece of your meniscus can actually let loose. Now, this part of the meniscus can move freely inside the joint space. This can cause your knee to pop or lock. When your knee locks you may not be able to bend it for a period of time. You can also experience some instability of your knee. This is because your femur and tibia don’t fit together anymore. A bucket Handle tear is one of the most common forms of a severe meniscus tear.

Usually, swelling kicks in right after the injury and your knee might become blue after 1-2 days. This is because of a popped blood vessel inside the meniscus or the surrounding tissue. Walking is usually very difficult after a severe meniscus tear. Recovery can take up to 3 months and might require surgery.

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How can I perform a meniscus tear test myself?

Penetrex cremeThe following movement can be used as a meniscus tear test:

• Bend your knee into a 90 degrees angle.
• Now rotate your lower leg inside and outside.

If the rotation hurts inside your knee this can be considered a positive meniscus tear test. Internal rotation puts pressure on your lateral meniscus and external rotation puts pressure on your medial meniscus

You can also change the meniscus tear test a little bit so it will give more pressure on your meniscus. You can do this by also extending your knee after the internal or external rotation.

The second meniscus tear test is simply by putting direct pressure on your joint space when your knee is bend in a 90 degrees angle. If your meniscus is damaged, putting direct pressure will hurt. This is also an indication for a positive meniscus tear test.

What is the difference between a torn meniscus and the patellofemoral pain syndrome?


A torn meniscus is often confused with the patellofemoral pain syndrome and vice versa. Fortunately, you can tell the difference quite easily.

The pain of a meniscus tear is mostly located at the side of the knee where the pain of the patellofemoral pain syndrome is more located on top of the kneecap. Also, pain from a meniscus tear is felt at one specific place where the pain caused by the patellofemoral pain syndrome is more diffused over the entire knee.

Secondly, with a meniscus tear rotation of your lower leg is painful, where with the patellofemoral pain syndrome this doesn’t hurt. You can test this yourself by bending your knee in 90 degrees. Now rotate your foot to the outside. If this aggravates pain in your knee you can be quite certain you have meniscus problems.

Also, the pain of the patellofemoral pain syndrome is difficult to put your finger on and doesn’t have a clear starting moment.

The easiest way of checking if you have a patellofemoral pain syndrome is by performing the following test:

Sit on the ground with your leg straight. Now bend your painful knee.

Extend your knee again and place your thumb on the inside or medial side of your patella. Push your patella to the outside or lateral side and bend your knee again. If this is less painful you’ll probably have a patellofemoral pain syndrome. If it doesn’t change anything you’re more likely to have a meniscus tear.

What can and can’t I do with a meniscus tear?

When you suspect to have a meniscus tear there are several things that you shouldn’t do during your recovery period.

The things that you shouldn’t do are activity’s that require extreme bending of the knee or puts a lot of pressure on your knee. This includes squats, lunges or rowing exercises. Also, activities like soccer or running put too much force on your damaged meniscus.

Things that you can and should do are swimming and cycling. However, it depends on the severity of the tear if this is possible for you. A general rule of thumb is that the activity itself may cause little pain, but this pain has to disappear within an hour after ending the activity.

Also, you can perform strength training exercises for your upper leg muscles as long as it doesn’t require putting weight on your knee or bending your knee. We will discuss some exercises that will help your meniscus tear treatment without surgery later.


How do I know if my meniscus tear can recover without surgery?

If meniscus tear treatment without surgery is possible for you depends on the location and severeness of the meniscus tear. Of the 3 kinds of meniscus tears we discussed earlier, the minor and moderate tear recover very well without surgery. A severe tear, on the other hand, might require surgery but this doesn’t always have to be the case.

In general, the cause of the meniscus tear can be a prediction for the need for surgery.

A bump of the knee almost always recovers without surgery within a few weeks. Also, a meniscus tear caused by heavy lifting recovers very well. In general, you can state that the bigger your pain and dysfunction is right after the meniscus tear injury, the more likely you will need surgery. Fortunately, sometimes even a severe meniscus tear can heal with exercises.

Wikipedia states that the “menisci are nourished by small blood vessels but have a large area in the center with no direct blood supply”.

As mentioned before the inner side of your meniscus is nourished through diffusion of the synovial fluid within your joint capsule.

Therefore a tear on the inner side of your meniscus might be harder, but not impossible to heal without surgery.

So basically, the only time you need surgery is when you’re in a lot of pain or keep locking your knee badly even after several weeks after the injury.

So if you know what caused the tear of the meniscus and if its more on the inside or outside, you can determine the likeliness of recovery without surgery.

But remember this:

No matter the cause or the severity of your meniscus tear you should always try to treat it with the following exercise program. Only if this doesn’t reduce your pain within 6 weeks, you should consider surgery.

Remember to start the exercise program slowly and increase the number of repetitions and pressure depending on the amount of pain you’re experiencing.


What does a meniscus tear treatment without surgery looks like?

The first thing you can do to relieve your pain is to massage the back and the side of your knee. What happens when you feel pain in your knee due to the meniscus tear is that the muscles on the back of your knee tens up. This tension increases the pain you’re experiencing.

You will also feel pain on the side of the knee where the torn meniscus is located. By massaging this spot as well, you will reduce the pain already.

By massaging these muscles your pain will reduce and it will be easier for you to walk. This will help your recovery and makes it easier to perform the following exercises.

I would recommend using this massage oil because it makes your knee feel warm which makes it also more mobile.

You can also put this anti-inflammatory cream to reduce the pain in your knee.

The second important thing you should do is to give your knee rest. Walking, bending your knee and walking stairs all puts a lot of pressure on your torn meniscus. This will prevent it from healing.

knee braceThe best way to give your knee rest is by wearing a knee brace. A knee brace will give your knee support and solves the instability problem you will be facing in the beginning.

Research shows that wearing a knee brace solves various sorts of knee pain including osteoarthrosis and meniscus tear problems.

This is how it works:

The brace reduces the direct pressure from your upper leg on your meniscus. This results in immediate pain relief.

When you feel less pain in your knee, you’ll be more active which will aid your recovery even further.

That’s why recommend wearing a brace for the first few weeks.

Since there are a lot of braces available on the internet I went ahead and selected what I think is the best for your meniscus tear problems.

I would recommend the knee brace shown here to the right.

By buying this brace right here you will also help to support this website to keep the information available for free.


exercise bikeThe third thing you have to do is to keep moving your knee.

The best way to do this is on an exercise bike.

Riding on an exercise bike increase the diffusion of the synovial fluid inside your knee. You need this to facilitate the repair process of your knee.

And because you’re sitting it doesn’t apply pressure on the meniscus so it still gets its rest.

Also, an exercise bike has some other benefits:

  • It increases the mobility of your knee
  • It increases the strength of your legs
  • It increases your stamina
  • You can adjust the resistance so it doesn’t hurt
  • You don’t make any sudden movements with your knee

Also, when your meniscus tear is recovered you can still experience knee pain in the future because of osteoarthritis.

Cycling on your exercise bike will also help against this pain.

That is why I would recommend buying this exercise bike to solve you meniscus tear without surgery.

Together with these to things you have to do exercises.

Our meniscus tear treatment without surgery consists of 3 exercise. These exercises will help to increase the strength of your upper leg muscles and increase blood flow to your knee. The meniscus needs nutrition in order to be able to repair itself. These nutrients are delivered by your blood.

Research shows that a 12-month training program of the muscles in your upper leg is as effective as surgery for the recovery of a meniscus tear.


Meniscus tear exercise 1:

the purpose of this first meniscus tear exercise is to increase the strength of your quadriceps muscles. This exercise is specially designed to train your quadriceps without putting pressure on your knee or bending your knee. That’s because the pressure on your knee will increase the damage of your meniscus. Therefore this is a better exercise than squads.

As you perform the exercise you will notice that it is harder to perform it with your injured leg than it is with your healthy leg. This is caused by the injury directly.

Start off with 3 sets of 10 repetitions and perform this 2 times a day. Then slowly in time, try to increase the repetitions towards 15 and eventually 20. When you can increase the repetitions you will notice that your pain decreases.

Perform the meniscus tear exercise as shown below:

 


Meniscus tear exercise 2:

The second meniscus tear exercise is designed to increase the mobility of your knee. When your meniscus repairs, you need to restore the mobility of your leg completely in order to return to full function.

With the following exercise, you can increase the mobility of your knee without the risk of re-injuring.

When you perform the exercise you may feel a little discomfort in your knee. However, it shouldn’t hurt too much. Slowly try to increase the flexion over time.

Perform the meniscus tear exercise as shown below:

 


Meniscus tear exercise 3:

The third meniscus tear exercise is designed to increase the stability of your knee.

After damaging your meniscus the stability of your knee is often also decreased. This is because the shape of the meniscus plays a big role in your knee stability. So in order to restore this stability, you need to train your knee.

What happens is that the muscles around your knee learn to react faster. This way your muscles will compensate for the loss of stability caused by the meniscus tear.

Try to perform this exercise as often as possible.

You have to stay on your injured leg in order to train it.

ankle stabilityYou can increase the difficulty of this exercise by doing it on a balance cushion.

When you make the exercise more difficult you will retrain the stability of your knee to a higher level.

This means that when you walk on an unstable surface or make a sudden movement, this movement has to be much bigger than normal to cause any problems.

This way the pain in your knee will completely disappear when you are able to stand on one leg on this balance ball for 20 seconds.

Conclusion

A meniscus tear is a very common problem. In general meniscus tear treatment without surgery is very well possible. However, sometimes surgery is necessary. Luckily the success rate after surgery is very high.

If you have any question after all this information feel free to e-mail me: [email protected] We will try to enter the answers into this post to keep improving it.

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