The meniscus is cartilage that provides padding under the kneecap. It can become torn as a result of sports, work or even just an unlucky knee twist. As you age, the meniscus becomes weaker. If you have torn your meniscus and can still walk, take it easy for two to three weeks, nursing your leg. After that do some rehabilitation exercises. If pain doesn't decrease, a doctor can help you decide if you need surgery.
Decrease the Swelling
Take action to decrease the pain and swelling. Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Follow the directions when you take the medication, and do it as soon as possible after you injure the meniscus. Elevate the injured leg as much as possible. It should feel comfortable, but elevated enough to relieve pain. Keep an ice pack on the meniscus area for about half an hour at time, then leave the ice pack off for about 45 minutes. It is imperative to ice it right after the injury happens if possible, as it will make a big difference in swelling and pain.
Take Care With Activity
Be careful after injuring your meniscus. Do not do any physical activity for at least two weeks after the injury. When walking on it, make sure not to twist around, as this could cause the broken piece of cartilage to pop out and lock your knee, re-creating an injury all over again. Wear a sturdy knee brace when you walk. The brace helps stabilize the knee and the pressure helps ease the pain.
Start Physical Therapy
You will need to begin physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and tendons around the meniscus in order to improve your condition. Visit your doctor to get the proper physical therapy treatment. The severity of the tear will determine the level of therapy needed. It is important that you keep up with the exercises. A simple but beneficial exercise is this: lay on your stomach, and carefully and slowly lift up your legs and then let them down. After several weeks of doing your physical therapy exercises, the pain from your meniscus injury will subside as the muscles around it will strengthen.
Help relieve pain and strengthen your knee also by doing hydrotherapy exercises in a pool. This helps relieve the pressure from your knee, while building up strength in it from the buoyancy in the water. On top of that, the water will help soothe your knee. Do chest-high kicks or light doggy paddling from the side of the pool.
For severe injuries, you may have to get arthroscopic surgery to repair the torn meniscus. If left untreated, loose pieces of cartilage can separate even further and migrate in your body.