Around the world, somewhere in the region of two million people a year undergo a form of knee surgery known as arthroscopy - designed for curing meniscal tears, or damage to the cartilage that cushions the knee joint. Heck, even robots are performing knee surgery these days! However, recent research has begun to suggest that this surgery might not even be necessary for the majority of patients who face it.
In fact, according to a study conducted in Norway, exercise could actually be just as good at curing meniscal tears for those who want to avoid knee surgery. The research itself looked at 140 people with an average age of 50. Half of the participants had arthroscopic surgery for degenerative meniscal tears, while half exercised for three months, followed by further exercise at home. After a period of two years, the research team found that the knee-related quality of life for both groups was exactly the same - concluding that exercise therapy could be the perfect solution for middle-aged people suffering meniscal tears.
While in some cases, curing meniscal tears can require the use of surgery - particularly when the tear blocks the natural movement of the knee joint, the vast majority of patients need nothing more than exercise with knee compression support, and time if they want to avoid knee surgery.
The True Causes of Knee Pain
Generally, people who suffer from knee pain experience discomfort around the kneecap that occurs as a result of damage to the meniscus. Damage to the cartilage around the knee joint can happen for a variety of reasons, but often the reason is an imbalance of strength in the muscles on the front and back of the thigh, leading to a lack of support when a person runs, walks, jumps, climbs, or even simply stands.
To some degree then, it makes sense that knee compression support, which holds the joint in place and provides additional assistance to the surrounding muscles, would help to fight back against meniscal tears. However, the degree of increased tension that your knees experience every day could mean that eventually the strain becomes too much to bear. Because of this, the real solution relies upon a combination of knee compression support, and exercise designed to strengthen the muscles around the knee.
The Solution for Those Who Want to Avoid Knee Surgery
Your joints are simply the pivot points in your body that exist to permit a fuller range of motion. However, they require the cushion of cartilage to ensure that bones don't rub against each other and degenerate over time. When severe damage occurs to this cartilage to an extend that prevents motion, then surgery is often required. On the other hand, if damage is only temporarily limiting motion, then the answer could be in exercise. With the right workout regimens, most people with knee pain can begin curing meniscal tears by balancing and toning their muscles.
To assist you in your recovery, we've put together a selection of useful exercises that are effective for painful knees. You should aim to do each exercise ten times, before taking a one minute break and completing another two sets.
Exercise 1: Loosening the Quads
Loosening your quadriceps muscles will help to give you the flexibility you need to experience a full range of motion. Begin by standing close to a wall for support, and choose the knee that's most bothersome. If your aim is curing meniscal tears in your left leg, then turn your right side to the wall, and reach back with your left hand to grab your corresponding ankle. Pull your ankle gently towards your buttocks until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh, and hold the position for around twenty seconds. Remember to repeat the exercise on the other side to ensure balance.
Exercise 2: Strengthening the Hamstrings
Strengthening your hamstrings will help to support your knees during motion. To do this, practice a straight leg deadlift, standing with your legs hip width apart, with your hands at hip level, grasping weights in front of you. Bend forwards, keeping your legs straight, and let your hands fall down your thighs until you feel the backs of your legs begin to pull. Don't forget to use your knee compression support for extra help.
Exercise 3: Build the Calves
Finally, building the strength in your calves can help to offset tightness in your legs and assist with your overall balance. To do this exercise, simply stand facing a wall, and place both hands on it to keep your balance. Lift yourself up on the balls of your feet, then gently lower your heels back to the ground.
After a few weeks of doing these exercises, you should begin to notice a serious improvement in the discomfort around your kneecap. However, even if you're completely free of pain in that time, it's a good idea to keep up with the exercises if you want to avoid knee surgery and prevent additional pain from returning.
Exercise for Curing Meniscal Tears
Just like using knee compression support can help to give you the strength you need during a workout to keep up your endurance and stamina, improving your muscle strength with the correct exercises can offer additional support to aching joints and damaged cartilage. Having flexible, strong joints is regarded by many experts to be the best way to keep your knees healthy and prevent additional injury.
To make sure you're doing the right exercises, it's generally a good idea to speak to your doctor or physical therapist about the solutions that are best for your circumstances. Not only will your doctor be able to give you guidance on the exercises that could make your conditions worse, but he or she will also be able to offer advice on how to get the exercise you need, and how frequently you should complete your workouts to get the best results.
At the same time, speaking to an expert will help you to rule out the possibility that you really do need knee surgery - as in rare cases, this extreme measure can be the best way to remove pain, and ensure better motion.