Rehabilitating from a torn meniscus starts as soon as you’re in the recovery room. The first three to seven days following meniscus surgery are about protecting the affected region from any damage or infection. Many orthopedic specialists will have you on your feet and walking within a day or even hours of the surgery. This encourages blood flow and protects against muscle atrophy as much as possible.
Of course, you will naturally lose some muscle strength due to inactivity and the impact of surgery. When the time is right, here are three exercises to help you recover from meniscus surgery. You can start these exercises within days of your surgery. As always, consult with your orthopedic specialist before beginning any strenuous exercise following surgery.
You should be able to stand within a day of undergoing surgery. At the direction and supervision of your orthopedic specialist, you may be able to begin toe raises. Stand next to a sturdy table or counter to support your balance. Slowly rise up on your tees and distribute your weight evenly between both feet. Hold the exercise for five seconds and slowly return your heels flat to the floor. Repeat the exercise 20 times twice per day.
This exercise can be completed while lying in your bed. Start with your knee straight and your leg supported by a pillow or foam wedge. Bring your toes slowly back and up towards your body and then bring your toes forward and away from your body. Repeat this exercise 20 times at least twice a day.
You may notice significant swelling in your leg in the days following surgery. Foot pumps work your ankle and calf muscles to encourage excess fluid to return back to your body to be expelled from your body. This will allow your knee joint to move more freely without the resistance of extra fluid.
This exercise should be done slowly and without any weight when first beginning. Stand with your back towards a wall about eighteen inches away from the wall. Keep your feet flat against the floor and bend down into a seated position with your back against the wall. If you’re just starting out, keep your knees between a 0° to 70° range. This exercise should only be done with the approval of your orthopedic specialist. Do not go beyond a 90° range of your knee when first starting.
With the right dedication and care, you can slowly increase your range of motion to a full 90° flexion over a period of weeks. If you feel any noticeable pain or discomfort, discontinue exercising immediately. If you start slow and are diligent, this can be an excellent exercise to help rebuild your muscles following meniscus surgery.
Water exercises can also be a good rehabilitation option to help recover from a torn meniscus. Click here to read our resource guide about water aerobic exercises for orthopedic rehab.
If you’re in need of meniscus surgery or physical therapy from a meniscus injury, schedule an appointment with Orthopedic Associates.