A: The menisci are small, crescent-shaped pieces of cartilage that provide shock absorption to the leg. The tips of these bodies are what typically get torn and, ultimately, may have to be removed to eliminate pain, and locking of the joint.
In the last two years, articles have come out challenging the notion that surgery is always required to get relief from this condition. Recent findings suggest that standard physical therapy can offer results that are the same as those achieved with surgery at 12 months post-op.
While the meniscus is still torn, it may seem odd that progress can be made when an imperfection remains. One of the interesting facts about the knee is that other areas of the body contribute significantly to its health. This presents an opportunity in rehabilitation to maximize function of these assisting areas to improve knee function. The important area assisting the knee is the hip. Recent evidence suggests that good strength, flexibility, and coordination around the hip will assist knee function and lower the risk of injury at the knee. The moral of the story is a trial of physical therapy is warranted before undergoing an invasive procedure.
Information provided by Mike Burggraaf, PT, DPT, LAT, Core Physical Therapy Inc., 516 Nile Kinnick Drive S., Suite B, Adel, 993-5599.