Why you need to strengthen your knee after meniscus surgery!

12 Nov 2019

 

I have torn my meniscus. Will I get Arthritis in my knee?

 

One common knee injury we see in the clinic is a 'torn cartilage'. And a question we are often asked is, if I have had a torn meniscus, will I get arthritis later in life? This is a good question, that has been studied by many researchers over the past 2 decades. It perhaps feels intuitive that a torn meniscus (the cartilage inside the knee that acts as a shock absorber) will mean higher load on the bones as the shock absorber has been compromised.  And perhaps this higher load on the bones will lead to arthritis. 

 

Researchers who have looked into this have found that a meniscal tear is a well-known risk factor for knee osteoarthritis (OA) [1], and according to previous studies about half of meniscus surgery patients develop wear and tear that can be seen on xrays 10–20 years after meniscectomy [2]. So unfortunately, having a meniscal tear which requires surgery may raise your risk of getting arthritis later in life. 

 

It has also been shown that a knee that has undergone meniscus surgery has weaker thigh muscles and poorer quality of cartilage 4 years after the surgery [3]. This is also thought to increase the risk of arthritis.  

 

But is that the end of the story? 

 

Can I make my meniscus healthier? 

 

Looking in more depth at the knees of those who had surgery 4 years previously, it was found that those people with stronger thigh muscles had better cartilage quality [3].  Thats a real positive. And further to this, those that followed a 4 month exercise program actually improved the quality of their cartilage [4].

 

And....

 

"stronger thigh muscles 4 years after meniscectomy were associated with less severe osteoarthritic changes in the medial tibiofemoral compartment of both the operated and contralateral knee 11 years later" [5]

 

Thats right - stronger thigh muscles means reduced risk of arthritic changes!

 

So it seems that regaining strength after meniscus surgery can both improve the health of your cartilage, and reduce your risk of arthritic changes even 11 years after the surgery.

 

The investment in post-op rehabilitation and physiotherapy management after knee surgery for cartilage tears to ensure a full return to strength is well worth it.

 

If you want to get stronger and healthier knees, get in touch with us at Onebody Clinic T. 0207 018 3980

 

 

1. Englund M, Guermazi A, Roemer FW, Aliabadi P, Yang M, Lewis CE, Torner J, Nevitt MC, Sack B, Felson DT. Meniscal tear in knees without surgery and the development of radiographic osteoarthritis among middle-aged and elderly persons: the multicenter osteoarthritis study. Arthritis Rheum. 2009;60(3):831–9.

 

 2. Petty CA, Lubowitz JH. Does arthroscopic partial meniscectomy result in knee osteoarthritis? A systematic review with a minimum of 8 years' follow-up. Arthroscopy. 2011;27(3):419–24.

 

3. Ericsson YB, Tjörnstrand J, Tiderius CJ, Dahlberg LE. Relationship between cartilage glycosaminoglycan content (assessed with dGEMRIC) and OA risk factors in meniscectomized patients. Osteoarthr Cartil. 2009;17(5):565–70.

 

4. Roos EM, Dahlberg L. Positive effects of moderate exercise on glycosaminoglycan content in knee cartilage: a four-month, randomized, controlled trial in patients at risk of osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2005;52(11):3507–14.

 

5. Ylva B. EricssonEwa M. RoosHenrik OwmanLeif E. Dahlberg Association between thigh muscle strength four years after partial meniscectomy and radiographic features of osteoarthritis 11 years later, BMC Musculoskelet Disord (2019) 20: 512.

 

 

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