Natural Treatments for a Torn Meniscus and Knee Pain

Natural Treatments for a Torn Meniscus and Knee Pain

Torn meniscus and similar injuries are common among athletes and those involved in regular fitness activities. They vary in symptoms and severity and may cause different amounts of pain in each patient. 

The knee joint is the largest and one of the most complex joints in the body. It must support a lot of weight daily and must deal with the strain of jumping, running, and lifting heavy weights. Contact sports and certain exercises are known to put added stress on the knee joint, often resulting in knee pain, runner’s knee, and injuries like meniscus tears.

Older athletes and individuals with arthritis are more likely to experience a meniscal tear due to the natural degeneration of tissue and the thinning of cartilage. 

Treatment for a torn meniscus depends on numerous factors, such as the severity of the tear, the location of the injury, the age of the patient, and their activity level. While surgery is often a conventional option, natural approaches are available that can ensure proper healing without invasive surgery of the knee.

What Is a Torn Meniscus?

A meniscus tear can cause a lot of pain and can interfere with a patient’s daily life. Unfortunately, according to WebMD, “a meniscal tear is one of the most frequently occurring cartilage injuries of the knee.” In fact, more than 40 percent of people 65 and older have a meniscus tear.

The menisci are pieces of cartilage in the knees between the tibia (shin bone) and femur (thigh bone) that stabilize and cushion the joint, protecting the bones from wear and tear. The knee is a hinge joint, meaning that it only allows for movement in one direction. There are two main menisci in the knee, known as the medial and lateral menisci. 

An injury occurs when excessive weight or pressure is applied to the knee, particularly when it is partially flexed. The meniscus can become trapped between the tibia and femur bones, tearing the cartilage. 

What Are Meniscus Tear Symptoms?

While a variety of symptoms can occur with a meniscus tear, the most common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the knee
  • Locking of the knee, which makes it difficult to walk or move
  • Swelling and tenderness of the knee
  • Limited range of motion of the leg

Sometimes, an individual will feel a pop or snap when the injury occurs, while others experience a slow onset of symptoms. If the knee locks, it will “stick” while neither completely bent nor completely straightened, causing a loss of motion. 

What Causes a Meniscus Tear?

A tear can occur suddenly or slowly over time due to the degeneration of tissue. The most common causes of a meniscus tear include the following:

  • A tear can occur with the twisting or a sudden change in direction of the knee. This is often accompanied by an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or medial cruciate ligament (MCL) tear. 
  • An unusual rotation or twisting which happens when the foot stays in place, but the knee rotates. This can also occur from an impact during sports, such as football or basketball.
  • An extreme bending or over-rotation of the knee due to a planting of the foot or cutting force on the knee.
  • Regular movements such as bending, rotation, and fast kicking can cause a lateral meniscal tear.
  • Everyday actions like getting in or out of the car, standing up too quickly, or slipping and falling can cause a tear in someone who is susceptible.

Can You Naturally Heal a Torn Meniscus?

While you may think that surgery is the only option for a torn meniscus, there are choices for less invasive treatments which can heal your meniscus naturally and completely.

RICE Intervention for a Meniscus Tear

RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. If you’ve experienced a torn meniscus, immediate rest is essential. Lift the affected leg above the level of your heart to reduce swelling. Begin ice treatment in twenty-minute intervals to ease the pain. 

An elastic compression bandage may also be a good idea to limit swelling, movement of the knee, and the amount of weight placed on the knee. 

Exercises for a Meniscus Tear

After you’ve rested properly, you’ll want to support your recovery with meniscus tear exercises.

  • Flexion/Extension – Whether standing or sitting, bend and straighten the knee as far as possible without experiencing too much pain. Do three sets of 10-20 repetitions.
  • Straight Leg Raises – Lie on your back with your healthy knee bent and your foot flat on the ground. Keep your injured leg straight and on the ground then tighten the thigh muscles. Slowly lift the leg about six inches off the floor, keeping it straight and continuously contracting your muscles. Hold for the count of three and then slowly lower your leg. Repeat ten times on each leg.
  • Heel Slides – Lie on your back with one knee bent upwards. Slide the heel as far as possible toward the buttocks. Repeat 10 to 20 times on each leg.
  • Calf Raises – Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Use a wall or chair for support, if necessary. Lift heels as high as possible off the ground and then slowly return them to the floor. Try for two to three sets of 20 repetitions.
  • Hip Abduction – Balance yourself on the uninjured leg only, using a wall or chair for support, if necessary. Move the injured leg out to the side as far away from the body as possible. Repeat 20 times.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet for a Torn Meniscus

Inflammation is a big issue with a torn meniscus, and there are ways to naturally reduce any swelling through a healthy diet and certain supplements. Anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Vegetables and fruits, especially leafy greens and berries
  • Quality proteins, like fish, eggs, and meat
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy fats, like olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado
  • Healthy liquids like bone broth and green tea
  • Plenty of water

Supplements that help with inflammation in the joints and connective tissues include turmeric, ginger, berry extracts, bromelain and omega-3 fatty acids.

Chiropractic Care for a Torn Meniscus

Oftentimes, patients overlook the benefits of chiropractic care as a treatment for a torn meniscus. A number of different soft tissue therapies are available to improve flexibility and reduce pain as your body heals. Your chiropractor may use massage, stretching, mobilization, and a process known as rolfing. Rolfing is a holistic system of deep, soft tissue manipulation to realign and balance the injured area to relieve pain and reduce stress. 

Visiting your chiropractor for an assessment will help you determine which treatment and pain management option is best for your torn meniscus. Not only can they help with your current injury, but they can also help uncover any contributing problems with your knee joint, such as pronation abnormalities, weak glutes or hips, or a weak core. 

Regular visits to your chiropractor may be beneficial to manage your condition. If you are ready to find relief for your torn meniscus, then schedule a chiropractic appointment online or call us today.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.