Tips & Techniques to Get You Back to Full Strength

Preventing Knee Meniscus Surgery

Denise Smith 
 • 
October 3, 2017

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.

Denise Smith
Meet the Author
Denise Smith graduated from Marquette University in 2002 with a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy and has been a certified running technique specialist since 2014. She is a consultant for multiple local middle and high schools and instructs courses in Kinesiology at McHenry County College. Denise also travels the country as part of the Pose Method education team with a lecture series on injury prevention and treatment along with the running technique certification course.
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