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Physical Therapy & Running Tips

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Preventing Knee Meniscus Surgery

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A 2013 study found physical therapy was a reasonable choice to avoid meniscus surgery to the knee. The study found that when a patient participated in therapy and continued with strengthening exercises, they were successfully able to avoid surgery. The meniscus acts as a cushion between the lower leg bone (tibia) and the thigh bone (femur). Over 1/3 of people over the age of 50 have a tear in one of the two menisci. Those with arthritis have an increased risk of tearing a meniscus. The cost of undergoing surgery is approximately $5000 where physical therapy can cost $1000-$2000. Whether a patient decides to have surgery or not because of a meniscus tear, physical therapy is a great option before and after surgery to normalize the movement pattern of the knee, strengthen the surrounding muscles, stabilize the joint, and assist with returning functional activities such as stair navigation, running, and squatting. Do not be afraid to ask you surgeon to try physical therapy.

One of the most under-addressed aspects of the knee that can significantly improve the function of a knee that has a torn meniscus is addressing spasticity (or tightness) to the back of the knee.S pecifically, the popliteus and plantaris muscles become overly active when a knee does not function with full range of motion. Addressing this spasticity can significantly reduce the “pinching” sensation many knee pain suffers note when bending or straightening their knee. These two muscles are key to helping the knee move but they are overly sensitive to a lack of motion and can make recovery more challenging when they are ignored. Balance activities are also necessary to assist in recovery. Addressing stability throughout the entire leg will help with all activities, especially walking on uneven surfaces, reaching up into cupboards, dressing, and twisting activities.

For more information on the 2013 study, please read these articles from CBS News & the National Institute of Health.

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