The meniscus, which is a structure located within the knee joint, is a common site for injuries. Treatment for a damaged meniscus depends on the severity and cause of the injury; your physician can help determine the best course of treatment. Once your injury has healed, you will need to exercise to recover and prevent complications. Your doctor and physical therapist can review your personal medical history with you to decide if walking is a good exercise option or if your risk of re-injury is too high to walk.
Your meniscus, which is a piece of cartilage shaped like the letter "C," acts as a shock absorber, because it helps lubricate your joint and limits your range of motion to protect against injury. Menisci are found in several joints in the body including the knees. A torn meniscus in the knee is a common injury. In most cases, meniscus tears are caused by twisting, over extending the knee, or doing other abrupt movements that place excessive stress on the cartilage. Part of your treatment plan is to determine the movements that caused the tear, so that you can avoid re-tearing it in the future.
The initial treatment for a meniscus tear is to apply ice, elevate and rest the knee to reduce pain and inflammation. You may even need to use crutches or wear a knee brace in order to limit weight bearing and movement in the knee. If pain and inflammation are severe, your physician may prescribe medications. During this period, physical therapy can help control the symptoms as well as teach you how to safely strengthen and stretch the muscles that support your knee. It is important to follow your doctor and physical therapist's advice on what exercises to do, because if a torn meniscus does not heal properly, you may end up with a knee that is chronically painful and unstable and you may increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis, reports Mayo Clinic.
Walking is a good way to loosen the knee joint and begin to get comfortable placing weight on your knee. When it comes to certain activities such as walking, your therapist can evaluate the way you walk in order to spot issues that may contribute to a torn meniscus. However, each case is unique and there is no one rehabilitation program that is right for all patients. Some patients return to their pre-injury level of activity within weeks while other patients take months, notes the Orthopedic Center of St. Louis. The time frame that must pass before you can walk again without re-tearing the meniscus depends on how long your body takes to heal, your level of physical conditioning, and how hard you work at recovering.
In order to resume walking, your therapist may suggest performing certain exercises to correct muscular imbalances or walking patterns, such as rolling in or out on your foot. You may also benefit from orthotics that help correct your foot placement so that less stress is placed on the knee. You will need to learn to walk without twisting your knees, as rotational movements are the most common cause of meniscus tears, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. As you resume your walking program you will need to monitor your knee for signs of re-injury such as pain, stiffness, swelling, catching or locking sensations or knee instability. If symptoms occur, you may need to change the intensity of frequency of your walking program, or combine it with walking in the water or non weight bearing activities, such as biking, to take pressure off the knee. You may also need to avoid walking on hills or uneven ground until your knee gets stronger.