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Truth Revealed: Can A Meniscus Injury Heal Without Surgery?

It's a beautiful day out and you're throwing the football around and running routes on the beach with friends. You go to make a cut in your route and suddenly feel some sharp pain on the inside of your knee...

You decided to try this new sport called pickle ball and you absolutely love it! You've joined a league with some new friends and are playing a heated match! A ball is hit quickly to your left-hand side and you turn to go and return it. But, you pull up short because of some strange and sharp knee pain…

It is family vacation and you are hiking on some beautiful hills in Colorado with your husband and children. It’s your second day of hiking and it’s beautiful outside. When you’re coming down on the decent your foot slides and you knee buckles. To your surprise, it feels fine the rest of the hike besides some tightness. When you wake up the next morning, your knee is pretty achy and a bit swollen...

All of these stories are typical in how meniscus injuries can occur, and they happen to be stories that we've heard in patients that we have successfully treated - without surgery.

Now, you don't have to read this whole blog to get the answers you need because we'll give you our main points right down below. Main reason is that we don't want to waste your time. We want you to get answers and get results as quickly as possible. But, please feel free to read further down if you'd like more information on meniscus injuries.

1. Your meniscus can heal without surgical intervention.

2. Don't let them "trim it" or "just take the injured part out"

3. Get an evaluation with a sports physical therapist, sports physician, or chiropractor. 

4. You don't necessarily need a MRI immediately.

5. Physical Therapy and Regenerative Therapies are proven to successfully treat meniscus tears.

6. No patient that has gone through our system of treatment for meniscus tears has had to have surgical intervention.

7. Multiple of our patients cancelled a scheduled surgery after being treated at our office for their meniscus injury.

Our physical therapists and physicians will be happy to talk with you and discuss your specific pain/injury in more detail if that is something you'd be interested in. You can give our fill out our form by clicking here.

Common Symptoms

A Meniscus injury is sometimes hard to describe. You may find it difficult to pinpoint your pain and it may be present even whenever you’re not even moving. Some other common symptoms or signs that you may have a meniscus tear are below.

  •  Swelling in or around the joint
  •  Pain on the medial (inside) part of the knee
  •  Pain on the lateral (outside) part of the knee
  •  Noticeable “fluid pocket” behind the knee.
  •  Feeling of instability
  •  Noticing decrease balance on the injured leg
  •  Pain with bending the knee Fully
  •  Pain with turning or twisting of any knee
  •  Pain when on the knee for a while
  •  Clicking or catching when bending 
  •  A feeling of weakness of the injured leg

If you're feeling some of the symptoms above, then getting an evaluation with a medical provider is the best next step. 

How Do You Diagnose a Meniscus Tear

The first step In diagnosing a meniscus tear is getting an evaluation as a medical provider who is trained and licensed to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal injuries. At Alliance Regen & Rehab, our physical therapists and physicians can accurately diagnose meniscus injuries and treat them effectively.

We do this by getting a detailed history of the patient and the injury, and we couple that with a thorough evaluation that consist of hands on examination, movement analysis, and special diagnostic tests. Our sports medicine physician can use diagnostic ultrasound imaging to get a real-time and accurate image of the injured tissue. All of this evidence allows us to find the exact tissue that is injured, the severity, and determine what may have caused this injury to occur. (hip weakness, degenerative changes, ankle mobility issues, etc.) 

If we determine a need for further evaluation by X-Ray, MRI, or another provider, then we are quick in setting our patient up with the needed orders and instructions. 

Surgery Needed?

When you experience any pain such as what we described above, then your first instinct or thought may be, “oh boy, I hope this doesn’t mean I need surgery.” 

The good news is that most meniscus injuries can be treated conservatively without surgery and they can achieve full healing and a full recovery. A small percentage of meniscus tears require surgery based on the type of tear that occurs. For instance, a bucket-handle tear typically requires surgical intervention because of the type of tear, the extent of it, and the location of it.

Physical Therapy for Meniscus Tears

Physical therapy is works great in the treatment of meniscus injuries by helping to reduce inflammation, restoring range of motion and mobility, regaining strength, improving balance and proprioception, and returning the patient to their prior activity level. Physical therapy is recommended in all cases of meniscus tears - non-surgical or surgical cases. This is vital not because the strength and mobility restoration, but a physical therapist uses his/her knowledge to guide the patient through the stages of healing. This speeds up recovery and reduces the risk for set-backs or re-injury.

Regenerative Medicine for Meniscus Tears

Regenerative medicine treatments such as a platelet rich plasma (PRP) are excellent in treating meniscus tears. The meniscii usually involve a longer healing process because of the location and the physiological make-up. Some portions of the meniscus heal better than others, which is correlated to the amount of blood flow it gets. PRP works so well because it acts as a catalyst for your body as it works to heal the injured tissue by bringing high amounts of growth factors and signaling proteins directly to the site of injury. We do this with ultrasound guidance to ensure the platelets are being delivered to the right place - not just into the joint or in the general area.

The Real Magic Trick

We've found that when combining physical therapy and regenerative medicine in a collaborative and co-treatment plan of care, patients are progressing faster, having fewer set-backs, and they are less likely to experience re-injuries in the future. This means that have less time-off, a quicker return to their sport or activity, less need for repeat treatments, and less of a financial investment for the patient. 

If you're currently experiencing knee pain and would like honest answers and viable treatment solutions that align with what your health values, our physical therapists and physicians in St. Petersburg, FL would be happy to help. Call our office to book an appointment today. 

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