Meniscal Tears and Other Knee Cartilage Injuries - Physiotherapy

When will you need physiotherapy for a meniscal tear and why?

Small tears may heal by themselves in time, usually over about six weeks. You may be advised to see a physiotherapist or sports therapist to advise you on how to strengthen the supporting structures of your knee, such as the quadriceps and hamstring muscles. Some tears don't heal but, even so, they may not cause long-term symptoms once the initial pain and swelling has settled, or cause only intermittent or mild symptoms. In these cases, no further treatment will be needed.

If you are having symptoms which interfere with your ability to work or which have been going on for more than 6-8 weeks, despite rehabilitation with a physiotherapist, a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon is advised. However, it is important to realise that if you have been diagnosed with a meniscal tear, even if it has shown up on an MRI scan, this doesn't mean you will have to have surgery.

If you do need surgery to your knee, you will be advised to have physiotherapy afterwards. This is so as to keep the knee joint active (which encourages healing) and to strengthen the surrounding muscles to give support and strength to the knee.

When will you need physiotherapy for an articular cartilage injury and why?

Advice from a physiotherapist can be particularly useful if you have been diagnosed with an articular cartilage injury. Moving the knee passively (which means moving it without using the surrounding muscles) may help the articular cartilage to heal. Moving the knee passively also helps to reduce the formation of scar tissue.

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Dr Jacqueline Payne
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Helen Huins
Document ID:
4838 (v42)
Last Checked:
01 February 2017
Next Review:
01 February 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.