Meniscal tears of the knee are one of the most common findings when people with knee pain have an MRI. You would think having surgery to clean or remove the meniscus would be the best treatment to manage this. However, the latest finding show arthroscopic surgery for degenerative meniscal tears may not be necessary as people get the same outcomes with conservative treatment.
The meniscus is a moon shaped piece of cartilage in your knee that cushions the joint. Wear and tear starts early as 25% of 20 year olds show some sign of meniscal wear. That increases significantly with age and by your 40s a tear is not uncommon. Tears however do not mean you should have pain. A study done showed 76% of people WITHOUT knee pain had a meniscal tear. This indicates a degenerative meniscal tear may not cause pain and undergoing arthroscopic surgery to fix them may not be necessary.
According to the British Medical Journal, over the last 12 years, 6 studies have shown meniscal surgeries are no more effective at relieving pain and improving function than placebo surgery or conservative management such as physical therapy. They recommend it is “Time to stop meniscectomies for degenerative tears.” The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons takes a milder stance but still has this to say: “We are unable to recommend for or against arthroscopic partial meniscectomy in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee with a torn meniscus.” The only recommendation for surgery for a meniscal tear is if there is an acute tear.
So how do you manage knee pain? From my experience, knee pain comes about from 4 main problems. Swelling, the inability to fully use your muscles when you have pain, your kneecap not moving right and poor stability or balance. Research has shown these 4 factors to be crucial to good knee function and when resolved, many people feel and move better.
This sounds easy but when you have pain, it’s tough to do. That is where an expert physical therapist can help. Expert physical therapists have a bag of tricks to help ease pain and swelling as well as help kick start muscle strengthening when many may think it is impossible. One such trick is releasing tight fascia and muscle fibers in the soft tissue through techniques such as myofascial release and medical cupping. A simple taping technique also helps around 70-80% of our clients have less pain with walking. Then exercises may not seem so daunting and strength can come easier.
At FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Centers, we have a team of experts who utilize Manual Therapy treatment techniques to loosen tightness, improve strength, balance the body and help you get out of pain so you can love your life.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 570-501-1808. For more information about what we do, catch our TV show “Wellness Through FYZICAL Therapy” daily on WYLN. Visit our website www.hazletonpt.com for topics and times.