Is it a cartilage tear?
As the 6 nations is in full swing I thought it would be good to share with you a common knee injury. This does affect rugby players but also is very common football and skiing injury too.
The knee is a vulnerable joint. Ligaments and cartilage can be injured during tackling, when changing direction whilst running, within rucks and mauls and twisting while skiing too.
What is a meniscus?
There are two areas of cartilage tissue within the knee. There is the menisci which are c shaped and sit on top of the articular cartilage which covers the ends of the bones at the knee joint.
Each knee joint contains an inner and outer meniscus (a medial and lateral meniscus). The menisci act like shock absorbers, help to make the knee stable and help to make the knee movements smooth.
When people talk about a cartilage injury to a knee, they usually mean an injury to one of the menisci.
- Pain and tenderness along the joint line
- Some history of a twisting injury but not always
- Clicking and popping of the knee
- Locking of the knee joint. Long-term, meniscal damage causes wear and tear on the joint surface, leading to osteoarthritis of the joint.
So how can Physiotherapy help?
If the tear is in the outer portion of the meniscus then it is likely to heal and respond well to physiotherapy treatment and exercises as that area has blood supply.
If the tear is in the inner meniscus they do not usually heal due to a lack of blood supply, these tears may require surgery.
Developing strong leg muscles stabilises the knee which helps to reduce the risk of cartilage damage. It also offloads the knee joint and encourages an increase in blood flow to the area and therefore healing of the meniscus.
So the best treatment for a meniscal tear is physiotherapy exercises, ultrasound, joint mobilisations, and soft tissue massage.
Please be aware of your body and take advice from your GP before exercising if you have a knee injury, please get in touch for advice and guidance.