Meniscus has been the buzzword of the week since the announcement of Derrick Rose’s torn medial meniscus. For Bulls fans, it’s hard to focus on anything but the fact that Rose’s season is likely over…again. But let’s turn the conversation for a second to why this keeps happening to him. Rose has been out with knee injuries for the past three seasons. Each time, he’s had surgery and extensive rehab. So what’s the problem?
The problem is Derrick Rose’s body is not in balance. While the meniscus tear might be the injury that’s trending now, if you look through his lists of injuries over the past four years, you can begin to see the pattern that got him there.
Derrick Rose’s Injuries:
January 2012: Left big toe injury-missed five games
February 2012: Low back injury-missed five games
March 2012: Groin injury-missed 12 games
April 2012: Right ankle and foot injury-missed four games
May 2012: ACL tear in left knee-missed 99 games
November 2013: Right hamstring-missed 1 game
November 2013: Right medial meniscus tear-missed 76 games
November 2014: Both ankles injured and left hamstring injury-missed eight games
January 2015: Sore left knee-missed one game
February 2015: Torn right medial meniscus
Tightness and pain are almost always precursors to more serious injuries. With Rose, the big toe injury of 2012 and the injuries that followed (low back, groin, ankle, foot) were warning signs of the ACL tear to come. Left unaddressed, imbalances set off a chain reaction. Injuries will happen and keep happening. That’s the way it works.
Let’s talk specifically about this most recent meniscus tear. Typically, the road to a torn meniscus (or any knee injury for that matter) starts with the pelvis. If your pelvis is off balance, that will throw everything else off.
Here’s how it goes. An imbalanced pelvis will cause your femur and tibia to rotate out of position, which throws off your Q angle and leads to increased rotational stress on your knee.
Think of your knee as a hinge. When everything is in balance, you have smooth gliding as your knee bends and extends. If your knee is misaligned, the twisting turns the nice gliding into a twisting and grinding. The result is that the meniscus gets ground down and eventually tears.
A torn meniscus can be fixed a couple of ways surgically. It can be removed totally in a menisectomy or repaired. Recovery from a menisectomy is usually around 6-8 weeks. With a repair, the recovery time can be up to a year, but if it is successful, the results can be better long term. The best way to go is really dependent on the patient.
Regardless of how the actual meniscus tear is taken care of, you need to address the imbalances that got you there in the first place. Treat the cause and the symptom, not just the symptom.
To get the Q angle knee back into alignment I’d start at the pelvis and then work on strengthening the core, inner thighs, VMO, and glutes. With Rose, I would also want to look at his feet based on his past medical history. Going forward after rehab, it’s important to continue to activate these muscles with a thorough warm up before any activity. If you don’t, I guarantee you end up right where you started.