Arthritis And A Meniscus Tear? 3 Benefits Of Physical Therapy

If you have a meniscus tear and arthritis, you might consider surgery to repair or remove part of your meniscus. Although surgery has benefits, unique challenges when you have comorbid knee arthritis can make physical therapy a better option.

Slow Down Cartilage Loss

The decreased cartilage in your knee from arthritis contributes to the characteristic pain and inflammation. In many instances of meniscus tears, the tear occurs in the larger portion of the meniscus without a blood supply. This means the tear cannot be repaired and must be removed, because it will not heal. Depending on the amount of meniscus you need to have removed, you will likely experience an exacerbation of arthritis because there is less cartilage to cushion your knee joint. When possible, you should consider physical therapy as a method of managing a meniscal tear to avoid accelerating your loss of cartilage.

Avoid Redundant Procedures

If your meniscus tear was due to underlying arthritis, surgery may only temporarily alleviate the problem. Significant arthritis can cause the end of your femur to become rough and tear the meniscus. If your meniscus tore in one spot, it is likely those same rough ends will cause tears in other areas of the meniscus. Instead of going through surgery if you are at high risk for repetitive meniscus tears, try the least invasive option first. You can elect to have surgery in the future if physical therapy does not help your condition or your knee becomes worse.

Start Working On Physical Conditioning

The combination of pain from arthritis and your meniscus tear can affect your lifestyle and may cause you to walk differently or avoid many activities. You may also experience joint instability, which increases the likelihood of subsequent injuries from falls. When you limit your activities to reduce pain or due to the concern of your knee buckling, the lack of activity contributes to the weakening of your leg muscles and supporting structures.

Physical therapy exercises improve your knee's functioning and range of motion. Increased strength in your leg muscles can decrease stress on your knee joint and potentially decrease arthritic pain. By strengthening the ligaments and tendons that support your knee, you can reduce the likelihood of future knee injuries. If you choose to have surgery in the future, a strong knee will help during the recovery process.

The pain and limitations you experience with a meniscus tear can make surgery seem like a quick fix. Before you commit to surgery, try physical therapy to determine if you can achieve similar results.

To learn more, contact a physical therapy clinic like Bonita Community Health Center