Meniscus tear treatment with 4 exercises to avoid surgery | Step by step plan

Research shows that a meniscus tear treatment with exercises is as effective as surgical treatment.

The recovery without exercises takes a little bit longer but comes without side effects. Surgery costs about $10,000 and also increases your risk of developing osteoarthritis. A total knee replacement because of that later in life will cost an additional $20,000.

All you need is a knee brace and a stationary bike for less than $300. Sounds like a really good investement.

And in today’s post, I’ll show you exactly how I treat my patient’s meniscus tears successfully in our physical therapy practice using these tools.

Every single one of them.

Follow this step by step plan to do it yourself at home, and I can give you a 95% success guaranty.

meniscus tear treatment

Meniscus tear treatment testimonial

“Meniscus tears can be healed with rest, physical therapy, exercise and supplements. I know from personal experience. Please read my story by clicking here.”

Treating a meniscus tear:

  1. Give your knee rest and support by applying ice every 2 hours and wear this knee brace. It will reduce the pressure on your knee and meniscus for immediate relief and prevents sudden twitches of your knee.
  2. Put this anti-inflammatory cream on your knee to reduce swelling and inflammation and thus your pain.
  3. Take Glucosamine to help the recovery of your cartilage.
  4. Start doing the four exercises I show you later. The first one is riding a stationary bike to guide the essential nutrition’s towards your meniscus for its repair and loose weight in the process.
  5. The meniscus tear recovery time with this step by step plan is 6-8 weeks.

You’ll need to follow every step for the treatment to work optimally. If you skip a step, the recovery will take much longer.

Keep reading for the full explanation and detailed description of the exercises (video’s included)

  1. Anatomy and function of your meniscus
  2. Causes of a meniscus tear
  3. Symptoms of a menicus tear
  4. Menicus tear treatment with four exercises

Anatomy and function of your meniscus

meniscus tear

A meniscus is a ring of cartilage that lies on top of your chin bone. You have 2 in each knee laying next to each other.

Its function is to improve the stability of your knee and improve its movements. Your femur (thighbone) and Tibia (shinbone) don’t fit well because they’re shaped differently. The meniscus compensates for this difference as you can see in the picture above.

The outer side of the meniscus has sufficient blood flow so that it can repair itself quickly. The inner portion of your meniscus lacks this blood flow. That part of your meniscus gets its nutrients from the synovial fluid within your knee capsule. Moving your knee will produce more synovial fluid and thus improves the recovery of your meniscus tear. The best way to do this is by riding a stationary bike. It makes sure that your knee moves a lot without putting pressure on the meniscus, which can cause pain and more damage. That is step 3 of our step-by-step plan, which you can start one week after the injury.

Also read: Knee osteoarthritis treatment | 3 exercises to postpone surgery

Causes of a meniscus tear

There are two possible causes for a meniscus tear:

      • A traumatic event
      • Degeneration

A traumatic event can be a sports injury, a misstep, or a fall. It always involves a combination of bending and twisting your knee.

A degenerative tear happens to many people when they get older. Due to the repetitive use of your knee combined with less recovery of the damage, a tear can start to happen. These types of tears are often linked to osteoarthritis. They are most common in people above 50 years of age. Your weight is also a factor because all these pounds have to be carried by your knees, which increases the degeneration.

The degenerative tear should always be treated through this step-by-step plan. Surgery will only weaken your knee and increase the chance you’ll need a total knee replacement later in life.

A traumatic tear can also often repair through exercises with one exception. When the tear causes excessive locking of your knee, which doesn’t improve within the first week, surgery might be indicated. That’s because this locking can damage the cartilage in your knee, which can also lead to osteoarthritis.

When you need surgery, make that the surgeon repairs the meniscus instead of cutting it. Removing parts of the meniscus can also cause osteoarthritis later in life, as shown by research.

Also read: Knee pain | All causes and treatments with home exercises

Symptoms of a meniscus tear

meniscus tear

If you want to be sure that you have a torn meniscus, you’ll have to get an MRI. That’s the only way to be sure. An x-ray doesn’t show a meniscus, and also ultrasound is not accurate because your meniscus lays deep within your knee joint.

Several symptoms indicate that you have a torn meniscus.

  • Pain in your knee joint, especially when you touch the area
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty fully bending and extending your knee
  • Lack of strength in your knee
  • Less stability of your leg
  • Pain when twisting your leg

The severity of your symptoms indicates how big your meniscus tear is.

With 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 small rupture is often caused by bumping your knee. It slightly damages your meniscus on the outside, where recovery is generally excellent.

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. Heavy lifting often causes this type of injury. 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. Twisting your knee can also 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 let loose. Now, this part of the meniscus can move freely inside the joint space. It can cause your knee to pop or lock. When your knee locks, you may not be able to bend it for some time. You can also experience some instability of your knee. That 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. That is because of a popped blood vessel inside the meniscus or the surrounding tissue and the inflammatory process that starts to clean up the damage. Walking is usually very difficult after a severe meniscus tear. Recovery can take up to 3 months and might require surgery.

Since the medial meniscus on the inner side of your knee damages most often, the symptoms are usually felt here.

Due to the tear, an inflammatory process starts to remove the damage so that it can begin the repair. Unfortunately, your body often removes to much tissue. That’s why you want to stop the inflammation as soon as possible.

With the inflammation comes swelling and pain. The pain reduces the strength in your leg. The swelling causes a reduced range of motion of your knee because it compresses the meniscus earlier. The lack of stability happens because your meniscus doesn’t function sufficiently anymore.

When we treat all these symptoms, your meniscus tear repairs correctly and you will be pain-free within weeks.

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Also read: Back of knee pain cause and treatment | Massage and 4 Exercises

Meniscus tear treatment with four exercises

To treat your meniscus successfully, you’ll have to give your knee rest to enable your body to repair the damage.

To give him as much rest as possible, you’ll have to wear a knee brace. A knee brace makes sure that you can’t bend your knee enough to damage your meniscus again. It also reduces the pressure on your meniscus by taking over the forces on your knee.

Together with that, you’ll have to reduce the inflammation in your knee. That will help to remove the pain and swelling. It helps you to be able to get to work as fast as possible.

The third thing you’ll have to do is improve the blood flow and diffusion of the synovial fluid to aid the repair of your meniscus. You can do this by riding a stationary bike. That way, you’ll move your knee without putting to much pressure on your meniscus. You’ll need to ride it for at least 20 minutes twice a day for your knee. You can also ride it longer each day. That way you’ll also reduce your weight. When you have less weight to carry, there is less pressure on your knee as well, which also reduces your pain and discomfort. Weight loss also helps against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

knee brace

Additionally, taking Glucosamine may help to repair your the cartilage in your knee and reduce knee pain. There is no hard scientific evidence that it works, but many people feel the benefit of it. That means that it doesn’t work for everyone, so you have to find out for yourself it taking it will help you reduce your knee pain or not.

Together with this, you can do the following exercises to improve the strength and stability of your knee.

Meniscus tear exercise 1: Improve the strength of your leg muscles

Next, we’ll have to improve the strength of your upper leg muscles. Your upper leg muscles (quadriceps) can reduce the pressure on your knee. They are often weaker due to the pain in your knee.

Improving them reduces the pain and improves the function of your knee.

Perform the exercise like this:

  • Lay down on your back
  • Pull your toes towards you and keep your knee extended
  • Now lift your leg ten times without rest
  • Repeat this three times
  • Do this for both legs

You can also see how to perform the exercise correctly on this youtube video.

You will notice that your injuries leg feel much weaker when you perform the exercise than your healthy leg. As you do the exercise more often, you’ll see that this difference disappears. That’s also when the knee pain starts to wear off.

As the exercise gets easier, you can lift your leg 15 or even 20 times to improve the strength even more.

By keeping your knee straight, you don’t put much pressure on your knee. That’s to make sure your meniscus doesn’t damage further.  Later on, we’ll add squats and lunges to improve the recovery even further.

meniscus tear exercise 1 train your leg muscles

Meniscus tear exercise 2: Improve the stability of your knee

The second exercise you have to perform focuses on regaining the stability of your knee.

Due to the torn meniscus, your knee lacks stability. That makes walking more difficult and also increases the risk to re-injure your knee.

By performing this exercise, you’ll train your leg muscles to react faster. The faster reaction and better co-operation improve your knee stability and reduce your pain and symptoms.

Perform the exercise like this:

  • Stand on your injured leg
  • Slightly bend the knee you’re standing on
  • Also, bend the other knee
  • Make sure the legs don’t touch each other
  • Hold this position as long as you can
  • Repeat the exercise as often as you can

You can see how to perform the exercise correctly in the youtube video.

You can do this exercise almost everywhere you are whether you’re watching tv, cooking dinner, or brushing your teeth. You can do all this on one leg.

You can increase the difficulty of the exercise by closing your eyes. You can also buy a balance cushion to increase the difficulty of the training.

meniscus tear exercise 2 Improve stability

Meniscus tear exercise 3: Squats

When you’re knee get’s better and can resist more loading, you can start doing squats to increase the strength of your knee even further.

Since squatting involves bending your knee under pressure, you shouldn’t do this exercise when the function of your knee is still limited.

The reaction of your knee during and after the exercise will tell you if it’s ready or not.

You shouldn’t feel pain during or after the exercise.

Perform the exercise like this:

  • Place your feet shoulder-width
  • go down through your knees as far as possible
  • Keep your weight on your heels, and your knee’s behind your toes
  • Repeat this ten times
  • Do this three times

You can see how to perform the exercise on the picture.

Make sure to perform the exercise correctly. When your knee’s go past your toes, this puts more pressure on your meniscus, which can cause more damage to your meniscus.

You can prevent this by keeping your arms in front of you for balance.

You can increase the number of repetitions as the exercise gets easier.

meniscus tear exercise 3 squats

Meniscus tear exercise 4: Lunges

Doing lunges is also a great way to increase the strength of your knee and improve the repair of your meniscus.

Since lunges also involve bending your knee under pressure; you shouldn’t do this exercise when the function of your knee is still limited.

The reaction of your knee during or after the exercise tells you if you can do the exercise or not.

Perform the exercise like this:

  • Place your injured knee in front of your and the other leg behind you
  • Now lower your body towards the ground by bending your injured knee
  • Make sure you keep your knee on the same place and don’t let it shift forward. You may have to place your healthy leg further backward if this is difficult.
  • Repeat this ten times
  • Do this three times

You can see how to perform the exercise in the picture.

Repeat the exercise with your other leg forward as well. You can also increase the repetitions to 15 or 20.

meniscus tear exercise 4 lunges


When you follow this step by step plan to the letter, your meniscus will heal within 6-8 weeks.

If you have any questions left, you can send me an e-mail for personalized advice.

Good luck.

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