Updated: Apr 10
Knee pain is one thing, but when you’ve been diagnosed with a meniscus ACL, PCL, MCL, or PCL tear it’s a whole other ballgame…or is it? It has been found through studies that just as many people with symptoms and without demonstrated evidence of a meniscus tear through MRI scans. This tells us that there are as many people with symptoms for a meniscus tear as there are with people who have no symptoms. Although these diagnoses sound detrimental and sometimes career ending, it doesn’t have to be.
For the average individual, most knee derangements, as they are known in the medical world, can be managed with physical therapy and learning joint protection strategies. You can function in day to day life without it even bothering you or limiting your mobility. In the article I’ve linked below, they look at the outcomes of treating a meniscus tear with physical therapy vs surgery and found that after 6 months of physical therapy and post surgery, both groups were showing similar improvements. This is great news for those that would rather avoid surgery!
It is important to note that not all knee derangements are best treated with only physical therapy. If you are an athlete, for example, you will more than likely prefer to have your ACL or meniscus tear surgically repaired in order to maintain the stability that the knee needs in order to change directions, pivot, jump, twist, and run. The ligaments and cartilage of the knee are what keep the knee from moving all over the place when we perform sport-specific movements.
Another instance when having surgery might be a better option for you is if you frequently use the stairs, have to squat or kneel, or twist in your day to day life. These movements will oftentimes create painful symptoms that limit your mobility and physical therapy will only be able to provide you with moderate-maximal relief. However, if you only perform these types of movements on occasion, you will most likely be able to carry on with life with minimal disturbances or pain from your knee which can be maintained with exercise and learning to protect your joints.
Functional Assessment & Application Lead to Relief
The best part about working with a physical therapist to find relief of your knee pain due to meniscus or ligamental damage is they can help you learn to move correctly, or with less strain to your knee joint in order to decrease symptoms. I frequently see individuals with knee pain when using the stairs, for example, that are able to change a few simple things and get relief of their symptoms.
A few common corrections I see include:
Using your glutes to elevate you up the step, instead of pulling up with your knee,
Stepping up, towards the ceiling, instead of forward onto the step,
Allowing your knee to drift inward, towards your other knee, and
Fully transferring your weight onto the front foot, instead of bouncing off the hind foot.
Once people are able to learn and use these techniques, they see instant changes in their pain and over time their knees get a chance to heal so they are better able to complete these movements.
Learning How to Turn on Your Muscles!
You’ll notice that I commonly discuss learning how to turn on your muscles and know when to activate them so they can help you when you need them. That’s because it is so important and a definite game changer when you figure it out!
I can strengthen my legs, hips, and ankles all day, every day, but if I have no clue how to activate these muscles when I’m jumping, sprinting, or climbing then they are doing me no good. Once you figure out how to turn these muscles on, you will be able to decrease the strain to your knees and use bigger groups of muscles to complete the movements.
Not only will you save your knees by decreasing the strain you put on them by using bigger groups of muscles, but you will also notice you can jump higher, move quicker, and with better agility because you now have the force of these muscles behind you, literally and figuratively!
Not Sure How to Turn Them On??
Don’t feel bad, most people have no clue that they aren’t activating their glutes, for example, until it’s pointed out to them and even more people have no idea HOW to activate their glutes. I’m full of ways to help you learn and figure it out and then put it into action by completing the movements that typically cause you pain until we figure out how to get rid of it.
I’d love to help you work through your meniscus, ACL, MCL, PCL tears and return to functioning the way you once were and even better on the court! The best place to start is by scheduling a No-Charge phone consultation so that we can discuss where you are and what your goals are to determine if we are a good fit! You can schedule that call by clicking here. I’d love to help you on your journey to excellent health and performance!