Meniscal tears, whilst a common injury, can still be painful, making walking and routine tasks difficult. Many meniscal tears result from sports traumas, happening between the twenties and forties, however, the vast majority, known as degenerative meniscal tears, occur in people over forty, due to natural wear and tear. Effective rehabilitation must re-establish joint mobility and range of motion, together with muscle coordination and control.
AposTherapy has demonstrated particular success in combining all these therapeutic actions into a single treatment, bringing lasting pain relief and long-term improved knee joint function.
The knee is the largest joint in the body and one of the most extensively used throughout our lives. Despite being among the most common types of sports injury, the majority of times a torn meniscus will occur, is during routine activities, as a result of daily wear and tear of the knee or becoming more prevalent as we age. Meniscal tears carry the risk of further disease development, as well as symptoms that include significant pain, stiffness and swelling, limited range of motion. In some cases patients report a sensation of the knee “giving way”, which is due to weakness and loss of control in the muscles.
The knee joint of the body contains two menisci. These are crescent-shaped pads that cushion the joint against the extreme weights and pressures it must bear during movement. The menisci also help stabilize the knee during rotation and lubricate the knee joint. Meniscal damage most commonly happens during injuries where a twisting movement was made. These often occur during sport activities when the foot is held in a fixed position during a sudden deceleration and change in direction. In contrast, older individuals can develop degenerative tears in the meniscus over time with minimal, or no trauma.
An abrupt injury to the meniscus usually causes immediate pain and swelling over 24 hours. On the other hand, pain due to chronic damage develops slowly over time. In both scenarios patients complain that in addition to pain, they find it difficult to move the knee through its full range of motion. Often this is due to muscle bracing in response to the pain. Particularly with younger patients, the knee can actually become locked, in these cases the tear is described as looking like a “bucket handle”.
The two main treatment avenues for meniscal injury are surgery, or conservative management. In general, most well-informed clinicians try to exhaust all conservative management options for their patients before making surgery referrals. Conservative treatments for meniscal injuries focus on muscle strengthening exercises, combined with balance and coordination training. The overall therapeutic goal is to regain function, reduce pain and achieve normal levels of activity - whether a return to sporting activities, walking, climbing stairs or standing.
The decision to move to surgery depends on how severe the symptoms are. Patients with abrupt and complex tears, severe pain, locking and swelling are often referred to an orthopaedist, if symptoms are not reduced within several weeks of injury. Tears causing infrequent symptoms and not interfering with general knee function can be managed non-operatively. Doctors may often also opt to manage degenerative meniscal tears in older patients non-operatively.
AposTherapy represents a very successful non-surgical approach for treating trauma-related and degenerative meniscal injuries in all age groups. Clinical experience has demonstrated that AposTherapy can reduce pain and improve the stability, movement patterns and quality of life of patients following a meniscal injury. AposTherapy also overcomes the challenge of incorporating valuable therapeutic exercise into the patient’s real environment, since treatment can be carried out during routine daily life. In addition, whilst there are many important treatments for meniscal injury, such as muscle training, balance work and walking exercises, AposTherapy combines all these therapies into one approach.