Your knee meniscus is a fibrocartilage that separates thigh bone (femur) from your shin bone (tibia). It is commonly referred to as “cartilage”. Each knee has a medial (inner) meniscus and a lateral (outer) meniscus. Your meniscus assists with rotational stability and shock absorption with impact activities.
A meniscus injury can occur with activity that involves twisting, jumping and squatting or through normal age related wear and tear. A meniscus injury often occurs with other tissue damage such as ACL, MCL injuries.
Does a Meniscus Injury / Tear Heal?
Unfortunately meniscal blood supply is limited: your meniscus receives its nutrition from blood and synovial fluid within the joint. Your meniscus has two distinct regions that affect their ability to heal. We call these the Red Zone and the White Zone.
The Red Zone is located on the outside of the meniscus and has a good blood supply which helps with its recovery.
The White Zone is located on the inside of the meniscus. It receives its nutrition from the synovial fluid and as a result injuries here do not usually heal due to a lack of blood supply.
Treatment Options for a Knee Meniscus Injury / Tear
A small meniscus tear, or a tear in the Red Zone, will usually respond quickly to proper treatment. To maximize recovery the goals of therapy should focus on:
- Reducing pain and inflammation
- Improving and normalizing movment and range of motion
- Strengthening the surrounding knee muscles
- Strengthen other muscles: calves, hip and pelvis
- Improve your flexibility and balance
- Improve your technique and function eg walking, running, squatting, hopping and landing
Wearing a customized knee brace specifically for meniscus injuries will help reduce the loading forces and stress to the meniscus. This will help an individual recover and return to their normal activites and sports sooner as a result.
How Long Does Meniscal Healing Take?
Your meniscus injury / tear will commonly take 8 to 12 weeks to fully heal, if it doesn’t require surgery.
It is important to avoid activities and exercises that place excessive stress through your meniscus, which can further delay your healing. Once again wearing a specialized meniscus knee brace can helps the healing process.