Meniscus tear – exercises to avoid surgery

  • A tear in the knee’s meniscus causes localised pain and usually some swelling
  • Pain is often sharp or catching with a residual ache
  • The most common cause of tears and the trigger for further episodes is a compressive load with rotation (weight-bearing while twisting)


  • Wearing supportive shoes will reduce twisting forces on the knee during the recovery phase
  • Avoid activities with excessive rotation thru the knee, such as walking on sand or agility sports in studded boots
  • Anti-inflammatory meds can potentially cause more swelling in the first few days after a tear as they increase bleeding


  • Elevation of the leg to reduce swelling is ineffective as the fluid is contained inside the joint capsule
  • Meniscus tears do not heal so you’ll be prone to further episodes if the knee is twisted while weight-bearing
  • Surgery for meniscal tears doesn’t improve your outcome and usually isn’t required unless your tear is causing locking of the knee or you’re not responding after a few months of a strength program
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