Top 3 Recommended Exercises to Rehab Meniscus Tear

By Vic
January 5, 2024

According to experts,  around 12 to 14% of the population suffer from a meniscus tear yearly.[1] The numbers are high for youngsters and athletes due to their active lifestyle and sports activities. Although this condition is not as common, it can cause swelling, discomfort, and pain and may hamper an individual’s daily life. 

Therefore, torn meniscus rehab exercises are a great way to relieve some pesky tear symptoms. Besides, if you are suffering from upper back pain, try the recommended 10 exercises to strengthen the upper back. 

If you’ve suffered from a meniscus tear or the knee pain doesn’t let you get fully mobile, this article is for you. We’ve rounded down some of the top exercises to decrease the discomfort in your body. 

So, keep reading to learn more about rehabbing a meniscus tear.

We will further talk about the following:

  • What is Rehab Meniscus Tear?
  • Causes of Meniscus Tear
  • Symptoms
  • Top 3 Exercises to Rehab Meniscus Tear
    • Quadriceps Setting
    • Mini-Squats
    • Straight Leg Raise
  • Other Exercises to Treat Meniscus Tear
  • Recovery Period

 

What Is Rehab Meniscus Tear?

The human knee has three bones: the patella, tibia, and femur.[2] The endings of these bones are covered with cartilage. Cartilage is a smooth cushion that takes care of the bone and allows it to move without breaking or getting hurt. Also, it works as a Shock Absorber between the bones of the knees.

When a person plays sports or performs any action that can strain the cartilage, it leaves its place, causing a Meniscus Tear.

The meniscus is an important cartilage layer in the human knee that helps the knees perform various functions like walking, moving, sitting, and running. It mainly fits the joint together in a proper position.

Besides, the meniscus absorbs the shock caused by walking, running, or exercising while providing stability to both knees.

Meniscus tear is not always painful, but it can cause swelling and instability with unusual tingling and numbness in the knee. Rehab exercises for torn meniscus are beneficial in improving these symptoms.

 

meniscus injury

 

Causes of Meniscus Tear

Meniscus Tear is a common knee injury and not life-threatening but can disturb the functioning of your knee. Learning about its causes can help avoid being a Meniscus Tear victim.

It can be caused by weakness, catching heavily, swelling, or clicking; however, the leading causes of Meniscus Tears include the following:

  • Squatting
  • Twisting movements
  • Holding unbearable weights on knees
  • Playing sports
  • Pivoting
  • Running
  • Dancing in a usual position

 

Symptoms

If you experience the below-mentioned symptoms in your knees, take action before it’s too late. Ignorance of Meniscus tears can cause disability in the knees, and then you’ll have to go for surgical treatment.

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Swelling
  • Limping
  • A popping sensation
  • Difficulty in straightening or bending the knee
  • Feeling that your knee is locked in a place while you try to move it

 

Top 3 Exercises to Rehab Meniscus Tear

You might be wondering: Can you exercise with a torn meniscus? You can’t exercise immediately after a tear if you have excessive inflammation and swelling. According to research, swelling, and pain should be reduced first as initial management.[3]

Your doctor will advise you to follow the RICE protocol. RICE means taking enough Rest to let tissues heal and using Ice, Compression, and Elevation to reduce swelling. Then, after three to seven days, you can start doing exercise.

It must seem very hectic to work out with an injured knee, but the exercises below to rehab a torn meniscus will help heal your knee; you just have to show some consistency.

Below, we have discussed the top 3 torn meniscus knee exercises to speed up your recovery journey!

  • Quadriceps Setting

  1. The Quadriceps setting is an isometric exercise that helps strengthen the front thigh muscles. Follow the below-mentioned steps to perform this exercise:
  2. Sit on a flat surface or ground with legs extended in front of you or lie flat
  3. Start contracting your quadriceps while pushing the back of your knee toward the floor.
  4. Try to hold your position for 20 seconds
  5. Perform this exercise 10 times on each side; remember to take a 1-minute rest after every turn to avoid straining your muscles
  6. While performing this exercise, keep your body in a still position
  • Mini-Squats

Mini squats strengthen the quadriceps muscles (the large group of muscles located at the front of the thighs). These are easy to perform and don’t put pressure on the knees.

  1. Do the following steps to perform mini-squats:
  2. Stand against the wall while holding your head and shoulders against the wall
  3. Your feet should be one inch away from the wall
  4. Bend your knees slightly and bring your buttocks toward the ground
  5. Stop at a 15-degree bend.
  6. Hold your body still for 10 seconds; now, slowly bring your body into a standing position
  7. Perform this exercise while keeping your back against the wall from each side almost ten times
  8. Rest for 30 seconds and give one minute to each turn
  9. Bend slowly, rest, stand straight, and then repeat the steps

Mini-squats will help rehab your meniscus tear without any pain and strain. Also, relying on the wall allows the body to reduce stress on the knees.

  • Straight Leg Raise

Straight leg raises help stretch the quadriceps and hamstrings, making them stronger and stretchable. To perform this exercise:

  1. Lie on a flat surface or floor. Keep your left leg straight and extend the right leg
  2. Now keep your pelvis and back in a neutral position
  3. Flex the right foot up and down while keeping your right thigh tightened
  4. Slowly lift your leg in a 45-degree position while your right leg flexes
  5. Put your right leg down and raise your left leg with the same steps
  6. When you flex your left leg, keep your right leg higher at a 45-degree position
  7. Repeat a straight leg raise on each side ten times, and take a 20 second rest while switching your legs

 

 

Other Exercises to Treat Meniscus Tear

Other exercises to rehab meniscus tears include:

  • Hamstring curls
  • Clams
  • Standing heel raises
  • Legs extensions
  • Hamstring heel digs
  • Prone hang

Along with these exercises, you should take enough rest and avoid heavy activities that can aggravate the knee muscle and delay tear recovery.

The top two torn meniscus exercises to avoid include pivoting and squatting. These put excessive pressure and strain on your knees, so, not suitable for a meniscus tear.

 

Recovery Period

It can take up to 4 to 8 weeks to rehab a meniscus tear with exercising. Meanwhile, you should make sure to take proper rest and take supplements. Supplements also help in healing the broken cartilage faster.

 

When To See a Doctor?

Contact your healthcare provider without wasting time when you feel tingling, numbness, and swelling in any of your knees. They’ll perform basic tests, including Arthroscopy, MRI, and X-ray.

After diagnosing this issue, they’ll opt for exercises to rehab your knee meniscus to start your recovery treatment. If your condition is beyond exercising treatment, your healthcare provider will go for minor surgery to help rehab a torn Meniscus.

Conclusion

Research and healthcare providers believe physical therapy is the best way to heal a meniscus tear. Many torn meniscus physical therapy exercises help regain your knee’s strength and improve its functionality without a surgical method.[4]

A meniscus tear can also cause disability in patients if left untreated. Therefore, it is necessary to treat it on time so, your knee can heal properly, and you don’t get any disability in the long run.

 

References

[1] Raj, M. A., & Bubnis, M. A. (2021). Knee meniscal tears. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.

[2] Pena, E., Calvo, B., Martinez, M. A., & Doblare, M. (2006). A three-dimensional finite element analysis of the combined behaviour of ligaments and menisci in the healthy human knee joint. Journal of biomechanics, 39(9), 1686-1701.

[3] Lento, P. H., & Akuthota, V. (2000). Meniscal injuries: a critical review. Journal of back and musculoskeletal rehabilitation, 15(2-3), 55-62.

[4] Nguyen, C., Lefèvre-Colau, M. M., Poiraudeau, S., & Rannou, F. (2016). Rehabilitation (exercise and strength training) and osteoarthritis: A critical narrative review. Annals of physical and rehabilitation medicine, 59(3), 190-195.

 

Written by Vic

Melbourne-based Personal Trainer, Calisthenics Athlete and the Founder of Street Workout St Kilda. Super passionate about bodyweight training and the art of movement.

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