An all too common knee injury that is feared is the meniscus tear. Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs) are all too common at this region of the kinetic chain. Endurance athletes as well as the high impact court or field athlete are all vulnerable to injury at this small yet critical connective tissue in the knee joint.
What is the Meniscus:
The meniscus is a rubbery “C”shaped disc of cartilage attaching to the tibia that acts as a shock absorber.
Symptoms of Meniscus Tear/injury:
*Painful “Pop” in the knee during activity
*Gradual, progressive stiffness
*Gradual, progressive swelling
*”Catching” or “Locking” of knee
*”Giving Way” feeling in knee
*Loss of comfortable ROM
Causes of Meniscus Tear/Injury:
*Squatting (below 90 degrees, knee over/in front of ankle, poor knee alignment or with too much weight)
*Twisting movements at the knee, cutting, change of direction, ballistic/cross-fit type exercises
*Age – Due to time and wear and tear, the meniscus becomes more vulnerable to repetitive demands
*Progressive degenerative joint disease changes in the weight –bearing joints (knee)
*Biomechanical imbalances and simply being “out of alignment” leads to non-symmetrical wear and tears
*Pronation and/or Supination – if unsupported, these foot faults lead to knee joint stress and injuries
*Shoe fatigue – by not keeping training shoes “fresh” and adequately supportive, joint stress amplifies!
*Poor nutrition leads to accelerated joint tissue breakdown!
Management of Meniscus Tear/Injury:
*PRICES (Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Support)
*Rule out degree of tear (minor, moderate, severe) via MRI! (Orthopedic referral/consult for moderate to severe tears)
*Physiotherapy modalities: Electrical Stimulation, Iontophoresis, Ice
*Biomechanical adjustments to balance/align the kinetic chain (foot/ankle, knee/hip/pelvis)
*Orthotics – custom orthotic for shock absorption, alignment
*Strengthen Quadriceps – with supervision, establish quadriceps program with no knee joint stress
* Training modification – pool work, recumbent bike, etc.
*Nutritional Anti-Inflammatory Protocol: Proteolytic Enzymes, Omega Three Fatty Acids, Boswellia, Turmeric, Ginger and avoidance of sugar, grains and dairy
*Nutritional Connective Protocol: Horsetail Extract(silica), Hyaluronic Acid, Green Lipped Mussels,Amino Acids (Glycine, Proline, Lysine), Vitamin C/Bioflavonoids, MSM/Glucosamine/Chondroitin Sulfate
**Due to poor blood supply to cartilage/meniscus, nutritional protocols should continue long after healing occurs for sustained benefit!!
Get It Done!!
Athletes! Take heed and act preventively with regard to this delicate and vulnerable joint as breakdown can be prevented in most cases. If your goal is to remain fit and competitive, invest time and energy into preventive measures such as clinical joint nutrition, alignment and proper training techniques and proven regimens as injury management and down time are more costly!!