About the Menisci
There are two menisci in each knee. These menisci present as:
- A crescent-shaped fibrocartilage disc located on the inner-side of the knee.
- A U-shaped fibro-cartilage disc on the outer side of the knee.
Each meniscus functions as a shock absorber and helps provide stability to the knee. Since the menisci are somewhat mobile, during motion, they also aid in the distribution of synovial fluid (lubricant) around the knee. It is important to keep these menisci functioning well since even normal walking puts almost twice your body weight on your knee joint, while running applies over eight times the body weight.
As with other types of cartilage, the menisci have a very poor blood supply, so anything (restrictions, inflammation, or injury) that reduces the degree of motion and replacement of fluid around the knee will also reduce the rate of healing.
When you first injure your Menisci (meniscus tear), you should follow the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) procedures to reduce the inflammation caused by the injury.
- Rest – Avoid putting additional stress on the knee.If necessary, use crutches to support your weight, along with a neoprene brace to keep the knee locked in extension.
- Ice – Apply ice to the knee for 20-30 minutes, every 2-3 hours, until the swelling is reduced.
- Compression – Apply an elastic tensor bandage your knee in conjunction with the ice, to reduce swelling.
- Elevation – Elevate your leg to help reduce inflammation. Just place a rolled up blanket or pillow under your knee.
Rest and Stimulation for the Meniscus
Depending on the severity of the injury, it may be necessary to rest your knee completely for several weeks in order to fully recover. By keeping the injured knee in a locked, full extension position, you can remove close to 50% of the compressive load from the knee.
Initially, after injuring your menisci, you should avoid any activities that involve flexion of the knee. The act of flexing your knee creates tension in the popliteus (a muscle behind the knee) and the semimembranosus muscles (hamstrings). These structures connect into the meniscus, and can cause increased stress in this area.
Resting the injured leg does NOT mean avoiding all physical activity. Exercising your lower extremity on the non-injured leg will help to maintain overall muscle mass. By exercising the uninjured leg, you will create some neurological crossover, which helps keep the muscles on the injured side from atrophying. Electrical stimulation, such as inferential current, can also aid in preventing muscle atrophy of the injured leg, and do so without causing additional stress on the meniscus.
Using ART to Treat Meniscus Injuries
Once you have the go-ahead from your physician, you should start a combination of both manual therapy and exercise as soon as possible. You will only prolong a meniscus injury if you wait too long to start treatment.
Manual therapy can help to prevent the development of a flexion or extension contracture. This refers to the inability of the knee to fully straighten or bend due to pain, stiffness, or adhesion formation. A flexion contracture is the most common type of contracture. If an individual is unable to properly straighten his knee, then he will also have difficulty in increasing strength or developing stability in that knee.
ART is very effective at removing both direct and indirect tension upon the meniscus.
Injuries to the meniscus can be very painful; any treatment should focus upon:
- Decreasing swelling
- Increasing range-of-motion and.
- Integrating exercises that strengthen the knee.
Note: ART can be very effective in helping to achieve these goals – except when there is a severe tear of the meniscus – which then becomes a case for surgical intervention.
ART treatments typically involve the removal of numerous soft-tissue restrictions above, below, or in direct contact with that meniscus. For example, in addition to where the meniscus attaches to the shin bone (the tibia’s medial and lateral condyles), each meniscus also attaches to the tendons of two key muscles – the popliteus muscle and the semimembranosus muscle.
- Popliteus (behind the knee): This muscle flexes and medially rotates the knee. Tension or restriction in this muscle could affect the function of the meniscus. By removing any restrictions in this structure, you can reduce the tension on the knee, and allow your knee to flex and rotate properly.
- Semimembranosus: Inflammation of the semimembranosus or hamstring muscle is often confused with an injury of the medial meniscus. Removing any restriction from this structure has an immediate and positive effect by reducing stress upon the meniscus, and allowing to you fully flex your knee.
Exercises to Help you Heal
Kinetic Health provides a number of excellent resources that can help you to resolve your knee injuries.
Dr.Abelson’s international best-seller – Release Your Pain – provides a detailed description about the causes of Meniscus Injuries. It discusses means for resolving this condition, and provides specially selected exercises to help you begin the process of healing from this condition.
Visit our website at www.releaseyourbody.com to purchase your eBook or hard-copy.
Exercise Videos for Meniscus Injuries
The following videos provide extra information about knee injuries, its kinetic chain, as well as exercises to help resolve this condition. Click on the left and right arrows to scroll through these videos.
Related Blog Articles by Dr. Abelson
Click on the following blog article for additional information on Meniscus Injuries.
When dealing with any knee injury, your practitioner should consider all the anatomical structures both above and below the knee. New patterns of dysfunction will develop whenever any segment of the knee’s kinetic chain is not functioning properly.
The word meniscus is derived from the Greek word that means “Crescent” as in a crescent-shaped moon. The menisci in your knee are crescent-shaped fibro-cartilaginous structures that provides stability, shock absorption, nutrition, and joint lubrication while acting to distribute your weight across your knee joint.