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Home > Community > Health Library > Meniscus Tear: Rehabilitation Exercises
meniscus tear is a common knee joint injury. How well
the knee will heal and whether surgery will be needed depends in large part on
the type of tear and how bad the tear is. Work with your doctor to plan a
rehabilitation (rehab) program that helps you regain as much strength and flexibility
in your knee as possible. Your rehab program probably will include
physical therapy and home exercises.
Exercises that might be
prescribed for rehab are listed here. Work with your doctor and
physical therapist to design a program that will best help you reach your
meniscus tear is a common knee joint injury. Meniscus tears commonly occur
during sports when the knee is twisted while it is partially flexed and the
foot is firmly planted on the ground. But these tears are also common with normal
movement in older people whose
menisci (plural of meniscus) are worn down. The medial
and lateral menisci of the knee are two crescent-moon-shaped disks of tissue
(fibrocartilage) that lie between the ends of the upper leg bone and the lower
leg bone that form the knee joint. The rubbery tissues act as shock absorbers
between the upper and lower leg bones, evenly distributing the load across the
knee and helping to keep the knee stable.
Symptoms of a meniscus tear depend on the size and location
of the tear and whether other knee injuries occurred along with it. Pain at the
inside of the knee can point to a tear to the medial meniscus. Pain at
the outer side of the affected knee may point to a tear to the lateral
Treatment of a meniscus tear depends upon the size, type,
and location of the tear, your age, your health status and activity level, and
when the injury occurred. Treatment options include:
A meniscus tear may result in long-term injury to your
The menisci are very important to the health of
your knee. Acting as shock absorbers, they stabilize the knee joint and evenly
distribute the load across the knee.
Continue to Why?
The goals of rehabilitation (rehab) are to restore range of motion, strength, and
endurance of your knee. A rehab program usually includes treatment
with a physical therapist at a therapy center and home treatment in your home
or at a gym or health club. Your physical therapist will design a program that
guides you through exercises to reach your rehab goals. Your rehab schedule takes into
account your health status, age, and activity expectations. In general, as you
see less of your therapist, you do more on your own.
a meniscus tear depends on many things. If the tear is minor and your symptoms
go away, your doctor may recommend a set of exercises to increase your
flexibility and strength.
If you have surgery to repair your
meniscus, your surgeon may recommend that you do not move your knee more than
absolutely necessary (immobilization) in the days after surgery. This may be
followed by a period of limited motion before you are able to resume daily
activities. Some doctors believe that it helps to begin a physical therapy and
exercise program soon after surgery. Others believe that heavy stresses,
such as running and squats, should be postponed for some months. Physical
therapy that is guided by your doctor and designed for your individual needs is
a key part of regaining strength and flexibility in your leg and helping prevent future degeneration in the knee joint.
Rehab is not important after meniscus tear
Rehab is a key part of not only
regaining strength and flexibility in your leg but also helping prevent future
degeneration in the knee joint.
Continue to How?
tears, some simple exercises can help maintain muscle strength in the front of
the thigh (quadriceps), back of the thigh (hamstrings), calf, and hip. All of
these areas are important for your overall leg function while your knee heals
after an injury or after surgery. Exercises should only be done on the advice
of your doctor and only if you feel very minimal or no pain while you do them at home. The list below has links to specific exercises with pictures and
In exercising my knee, I should do all the necessary
repetitions, even if I feel increasing pain.
The goal of rehab is to heal and
strengthen the tissues, muscles, and tendons around the knee. Pain is a signal
that you may be injuring your knee further. Stop any exercise if you feel
anything more than minimal pain.
Continue to Where?
For more information about rehabilitation for a
meniscus tear, talk to:
Return to topic:
September 10, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Patrick J. McMahon, MD - Orthopedic Surgery
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