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A torn meniscus is a common injury to the knee. Surgery can be used to fix the problem, but a cheaper option is physical therapy. Therapy for a torn meniscus uses exercises to strengthen the muscles and tendons surrounding the knee to take the pressure off it. Recommended exercises include quad strengthening, calf raises, lunges and hamstring curls. Calf raises can be performed in the initial stages of recovery because they place minimal pressure on the knees.
What is a Meniscus?
A meniscus is a вЂњCвЂќ-shaped piece of cartilage that sits between the upper leg bone and the larger of the two lower leg bones. Each leg has a meniscus on either side of the knee joint. The one on the outer side of the leg is the lateral meniscus and the inner one is the medial meniscus. The medial meniscus is more prone to injury due to twisting the knee or degenerative changes.
How Common are Meniscal Injuries?
Each year the rate of meniscal tears is around 60 to 70 per 100,000 people. More males than females suffer from injury. Traumatic injuries are more likely to occur among athletic and active individuals, and the highest rates occur in males between the ages of 21 and 30, and females between the ages of 11 and 20. Degenerative tears are most common in males 40 to 70 years old and females over 20 years old.
Surgery or Conservative Treatment
The meniscus is slow to heal because only the outer edge has a good blood supply. Young, active patients usually have arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus so they can quickly return to sport. It has been found that for older and middle-aged patients suffering from degenerative changes in the meniscus that conservative treatment such as calf raises and stretches combined with rest, ice, compression and elevation, that the same improvement could be made as someone having surgery, over an eight-week period.
Benefits of Calf Raises
Calf raises help the meniscus by strengthening the muscles that surround and stabilize the knee, minimizing the possibility of re-injury. They strengthen the ankle muscles and improve balance and co-ordination, which all help keep the knee in the proper plane. Performing knee raises puts minimal pressure on the knee and can be performed early in the rehabilitation process of recovering from a damaged meniscus.