A torn meniscus in the knee is the most common knee injury in athletes. But athletes are not the only ones who suffer meniscal injuries. Two-thirds of all meniscal tears occur outside the sports arena, in nonathletes.
For patients with a torn meniscus, surgery is often needed to take out the piece of injured tissue. The doctor does this with an arthroscope. This tool allows the surgeon to enter the joint with only a small puncture hole, rather than using an open incision. Some patients have knee swelling, pain, and loss of motion after the operation. Physical therapy has been shown to help patients recover faster. Some studies suggest that exercise programs may be helpful for muscle weakness after a meniscectomy.
This study looked at two groups of patients early after a meniscectomy. Both groups were given written and verbal directions. Group one had six weeks of physical therapy, three times a week. Group two had only a home program without a physical therapist to guide them.
Patients were selected from a wide range of clinics and doctors in London, England. The researchers measured knee range of motion, knee function, and patients' quality of life. They also looked at how long it took for each patient to return to work. Patients were measured four days after the operation and again six weeks later.
There were no differences in results for the two groups. The authors conclude when a partial meniscectomy is done without problems, physical therapy is not needed afterward.
Peter C. Goodwin, MCSP, et al. Effectiveness of Supervised Physical Therapy in the Early Period after Arthroscopic Partial Meniscectomy. In Physical Therapy. Vol. 83. No. 6. Pp. 520-535.'