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3 Things Swimmers Need To Know About Meniscus Tears

Swimmers can experience a variety of injuries related to their sport, including meniscus tears. The meniscus is the cartilage within your knee joint that cushions the femur and tibia bones. When this cartilage tears, the bones rub against each other, leading to pain and instability. Here are three things swimmers need to know about meniscus tears.

How can swimmers get meniscus tears?

Meniscus tears can occur anytime that your knee is twisted or rotated forcefully. While swimming is a low-impact activity, you can injure your knee while performing a flip turn. Forcefully pressing off of the wall of the pool while rotating your body can strain your meniscus and cause the cartilage to tear.

What are the symptoms of meniscus tears?

If you tear your meniscus, you may not be able to identify the exact moment that the injury occurred. The pain tends to be intermittent and occurs along the joint line. In addition to this pain, your knee may become swollen.

You may notice a clicking sensation from within your knee joint, and your knee may also catch or lock. While these symptoms may be mild, don't ignore them. If meniscus tears aren't treated, the tears can get bigger and harder to repair.

How are meniscus tears treated?

Conservative therapies are attempted first. These therapies may include resting, applying ice or moist heat to your knee, or taking anti-inflammatory medications.

Your doctor may recommend seeing a physiotherapist to help you maintain your strength and flexibility while you heal. Exercises used to treat meniscus tears include straight-leg raises, heel raises and quad sets. Your physiotherapist will tell you which exercises to do as well as how many sets and reps to perform. Follow these directions closely and be sure to let your physiotherapist know if the exercises are painful: you should feel either no pain or minimal pain during your sessions.

Surgery can be performed if your meniscus doesn't heal on its own. Depending on the extent of the tear, your surgeon will either sew your meniscus back together or remove some of the cartilage. After your surgery, you'll need aggressive physiotherapy.

Gradually, you'll be able to return to swimming. At first, stay away from activities that aggravate your knee, like flip turns. At the end of your lap, skip the flip turn and simply turn in the water like an amateur would. This will feel very unnatural after years of doing flip turns, but it will let your meniscus heal. You can work up to doing flip turns again once you've healed.

If you think you have a meniscus tear, stop swimming and see your doctor. For more information, talk to a physiotherapist center like Phoenix Physiotherapy Clinic hydrotherapy.