Meniscus tear case study – Scaffolder

Absolute Balance recently received a referral for a 6o year old scaffolder who had injured his knee at work as a result of stepping down out of a truck and twisting awkwardly. After an MRI scan was completed it showed a medial meniscal tear, which resulted in the worker having a variety of questions ranging from required treatment, likelihood of returning to work and the prospects of returning to an active lifestyle.

As is the normal process when seeing an injured worker, education on the injury forms a large part of the initial sessions and continues throughout the rehab process – essentially an anatomy 101 class specific to the injury. This case was no different, with these questions continually addressed and revisited from the initial review with the specialist to the weekly exercise appointments. The anatomy 101 class can be summarised into these three FAQ’s below.

  • What Is the Meniscus?

The meniscus is a wedge-shaped structure that is made of fibrocartilage. Together the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus provide stability and cushioning to the knee.

  • What’s the Treatment for a Meniscus Tear?

This depends on the size and location of the tear. It is also influenced by age, activity level and related injuries. If the knee is not locking up, is stable, and symptoms settle, nonsurgical treatment will involve rest, ice and most importantly strengthening exercises.  If a tear is large, unstable and causes locking symptoms, surgery may be required with physical rehabilitation to follow.

  • Can I return to my physical job role and active lifestyle?

Yes! Dedication and consistency to maintaining strength, flexibility and a healthy lifestyle will give the best long-term prognosis for both returning to work and returning to previous levels of activity.


During the initial assessment with this worker they were unable to complete a full squat due to pain levels and restrictions in range of motion, were limited to several step ups and could not walk for more than 5 minutes.

After just the third supervised session and consistently following the non-surgical recommendations above, the worker has been completing full squats with 5kgs, is able to step up repetitively with no discomfort and has been cycling three days per week.

Through the use of education and empowerment the patient has taken control of the injury and is well on their way to getting back to what they love and enjoy. This case study will be revisited soon with an update on how things are tracking and what stage of the rehab timeline it is at.

If you would like more information on managing your meniscus injury contact Absolute Balance by mail or view our website

Michael Buswell (B.Sc. –  Exercise Physiology)
Senior Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) (ESSAM)


Herrlin SV, Wange PO, Lapidus G, Hallander M, Werner S,  Weidenhielm L. and Is arthroscopic surgery beneficial in treating non-traumatic, degenerative medial meniscal tears? A five year follow-up. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc.

Sonesson, S., Kvist, J., Yakob, J., Hedevik, H., & Gauffin, H. (2020). Knee Arthroscopic Surgery in Middle-Aged Patients With Meniscal Symptoms: A 5-Year Follow-up of a Prospective, Randomized Study. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.