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  1. #1
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    Knee surgery blues

    Hey guys,

    Don't know why I'm putting this on here, but I need to vent a bit. I am really upset after my
    knee scope today. Surgeon said that the lateral meniscus in my right knee was quite torn up (even more than expected) when he got to looking into my knee. In fact, he said that at my age 26 he already saw some signs of arthritis and could see on my femur (i think) where the bone had already been rubbed. Long story short, he had to remove like 60-70 percent of my lateral meniscus and what he left is still far from perfect. Doctor says I'll likely not run again unless I want a knee replacement soon. I'm devastated. I love running as much as I love MTB'ing.
    -ER

  2. #2
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    I had the same thing

    only I was 41 when I had my left knee scoped. I can look back in the previous 20 years of knee abuse, times when I heard weird noises coming out from there, weeks of limping, but I always got better. Finally I had to go under the knife. Same procedure as you. It sucks being mortal but you gotta deal with the hand you're dealt.

    And Rider Down is the place to vent. You'll hear from a lot of recovering athletes, that's why we're here. Good luck.
    A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett

  3. #3
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    Wow, really tough news about running. Maybe some people here will have some insight about your situation. Hope you have an easy recovery and fast return to your bike.

  4. #4
    breathing helium
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    Yes, this is the place to vent for sure. I'm so sorry to hear about the knee issues. My dad (66) has basically no meniscus at all; it's almost totally deteriorated. He has gotten a series of injections of some kind of pig cartlidge or something. He runs on it just about every day with only very minor pain every now and then. I know that you are devistated and I ttally understand your loss, but there is so much technology out there that is available to you nowadays. They are getting so dang good at knee replacements and assuming that they only learn more and get better at it, it may be a good option for you in the future.

    I just had my knee scoped a month ago and got some surprises too. My two MRIs leading up to the procedure were deemed "clean" and I had to ask the surgeon to do the surgery. He said, "I don't know if I will find anything wrong in there, but we can do it." Well, he found 2 meniscal tears and a shot plica, which he removed. "Clean", yeah, right! Anyway, the weird thing was that on one of the tears, it is more of a depression or weak spot where there is nothing he could really do without removing most of the meniscus. He poked the area with a needle to get more blood flow, but he said that this is an area that just cannot be fixed in the traditional way. The worst thing is that I think I am still getting pain from that area of my knee even after the surgery. Good thing is that he said everything else about my knee looked very good. Good bone, good acl, rest of the meniscus looked good, etc... My recovery is doing ok I guess...still in PT...ride about 2 miles a day...

    I also work with a fellow who had his meniscus totally removed (back in the dark ages before they learned that you needed your meniscus). He is 50 and he had it removed about 25 years ago. He said that it bugs him sometimes but he will just have to get it replaced one of these days. He says that it does not hurt like one would think.

    Anyway, hang in there and don't let it get you too down. I had the same post surgery blues as well. I got over it. It just took me a little time. I say get a good cycling book or some new parts for your bike. Find some way to satisfy the cycling urge and just plan for that first big ride!

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the advice guys. Believe it or not I do feel a bit better after reading this thread. I guess what it boils down to is that I will just need to make a decision based on my pain as to whether I should run on it and, fully expect to need a replacement in the future. I guess one thing about this that really hit hard is that it took me a year to recuperate from this injury as a teenager *acl/mcl tears* and the damage incurred in the last 8 years has shocked me quite frankly. The Dr. was just astounded that I didn't present with more pain and that I was as active as I was. I guess I was just lucky.
    Oh well, I need to get back on the bike at least. How long did it take you to saddle up again?

    ER

  6. #6
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    My knee stayed swolen for a long time

    and I limped for almost a year, most of that "learned limping" from fear of the pain when my left foot set down. A pt lady at my gym suggested walking backwards just to mix it up and I did finally learn not to limp when my foot landed. Anyway...

    My knee was so swolen and unbendable three months after surgery that I couldn't make a full revolution on the pedals but I just had to get back to Moab. I did Slickrock basically one-legged. I could push down a little at the bottom of the stroke but couldn't bend it enough to go up and over with my foot on the cranks. My right leg sure got a workout.

    I had to give up running, though I'm sure I wasn't as much of a runner as you. I turned to walking rapidly up multiple flights of stairs two at a time for my "running" workout. And I started taking Glucosamine Sulfate. Still do.
    A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett

  7. #7
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    Well, I'm kinda thinking it may be similarly slow for me to get back to the bike. However, it is hard to tell just a day after surgery. I heard all these stories from some of the guys at work who don't ever workout saying they could walk unassisted the day after surgery. That's definetly not an option for me at this point, but I guess everyone is different.
    Thanks for your advice guys, the words of encouragement and shared experiences are GREATLY appreciated. I guess all I got to do now is figure out how to be superman again.

    Hey, maybe I can screw some SPD cleats to my crutches and take a ride

    ER

  8. #8
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    I'm just over a month post op and I have 100% of my range of motion. I am riding a couple of miles a day on the road and hope to raise that distance after I get my road bike in a week. I've got a little bit of swelling but nothing too bad. I'm beginning to think that part of the problem is my clipless pedals or simply how my left knee reacts to a pedal stroke. I may not have enough float in my pedals and that may have been one of the factors that aggrivated my plica so much. I am having some pain around the knee cap, but it's nothing that that I think won't be worked out in time.

    I've also made an appointment with a bike fitter/physical therpaist who specializes in this sort of thing. I'm lucky to live so close to a person that specializes in exactly what I need. I'm hopeful that we will be able to come up with something that will minimize the pain and prevent any future injury. I too have a person here in my office who was up and walking around a couple of days after surgery and was fine. I don't think it has anything to do with how fit the person is.

    A retired orthopedic surgeon that I know said, "It took Lawrence Taylor a year to recover from his knee surgery." The other thing he told me that really struck a chord with me was, "Go easy on it or you will risk a much more lengthy recovery. Don't be fooled; it is a big surgery with little holes." Wise words I think...

  9. #9
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    Yes, I expected as much. My wife (the RN) says something similar to me several times a day. I am fully intent on following my physical therapists instructions to the letter over the next few months to hopefully end this unpleasantness earlier.

    Unfortunately, I am also in the Army and have to deal with my "bosses" crawling down my throat to be healed and ready to do all the "army things" they think are so important...

    I'm a little interested in what you said about the clipless pedals causing you problems with your knee. Please keep us updated in what progress you make with this new physical therapist as it regards your current problems. I wish you the very best.


    ER

  10. #10
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    Good job!

    Quote Originally Posted by EclipseRoadie
    Yes, I expected as much. My wife (the RN) says something similar to me several times a day. I am fully intent on following my physical therapists instructions to the letter over the next few months to hopefully end this unpleasantness earlier.

    Unfortunately, I am also in the Army and have to deal with my "bosses" crawling down my throat to be healed and ready to do all the "army things" they think are so important...

    I'm a little interested in what you said about the clipless pedals causing you problems with your knee. Please keep us updated in what progress you make with this new physical therapist as it regards your current problems. I wish you the very best.


    ER
    My wife is an RN too. It's great to have an RN around the house. She keeps everybody in good shape.

    I'm lucky to not have been getting too much crap at work about being pretty uselss physically. I have a lot of desk work to do too, so I'm just catching up on all of that during the down time.

    I will certainly keep you posted on the clipless pedal thing. The bottom line is that each one of us is put together a little differently. It's usually pretty subtle stuff, but on a good ride you might make tens of thousands of cycles on the knee. If it is off by only a slight amount it adds up. I actually have a totall non-scientific test I am going to do using each major brand of pedal out there riht now. So far I am gathering the following pedals:

    Shimano
    Time Atac
    Crank Brothers Candy
    Speedplay Frog
    Redline BMX Flats
    Suntour/WTB with Powergrips

    I have some of them here now but by next week ro so I'll have most of them. I ma going to do a week on each one...simply riding in the neighborhood on the road. All I want to test is the stresses that they are putting on the knee relative to float and platform, etc... I don't want to worry about performance on the trail yet. I'm only after the effects on my knee in a more controlled environment. I know that the bike fit has more to do with this sort of stuff than the pedals, but I'm trying to look at every variable there is and exhaust each one.

    When I'm done with this quasi-experiment, I'd be more than happy to share this "pedal pack" with you if you want to give them a try.

    Good luck with everything.

  11. #11
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    Sure, that sounds fantastic. Do you need any pedals? I believe I have a pair of Shimano's and some Time's in the garage. I even think they still work

    ER

  12. #12
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    At the age of 21 I sustained an abrupt bucket handle tear of my lateral mensicus which caused sudden knee lock and surgery 48 hours later. Much of the lateral mensicus was removed.

    I'm now almost 39 and have been completely pain free since that time. Recently I've developed mild discomfort in that knee and the MRI shows some mild degenerative changes. It's inevitable.

    Eclipse...I suspect you'll be fine. Future knee problems may be in your future but you'll deal with it when the time comes. The advice to stop running is good advice. Nothing beats up a knee like running.
    Life....the original terminal illness

  13. #13
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    That is fantastic news. I too had what they called a "Bucket handle" tear in my lateral meniscus so I am quite happy to hear you are pain free. Hopefully I can find another hobby to get involved in besides running.
    A question for you. I now ride a 29'er hardtail for everything. With this new requirement that I not run, it would seem logical to me that perhaps a FS bike would be better as well. Have you found this to be an issue?

  14. #14
    Bodhisattva
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    Quote Originally Posted by EclipseRoadie
    That is fantastic news. I too had what they called a "Bucket handle" tear in my lateral meniscus so I am quite happy to hear you are pain free. Hopefully I can find another hobby to get involved in besides running.
    A question for you. I now ride a 29'er hardtail for everything. With this new requirement that I not run, it would seem logical to me that perhaps a FS bike would be better as well. Have you found this to be an issue?
    Every case is different and I really can't give blanket advice.

    I ride a 29er SS HT, a 29er dualie and a 6" 26er dualie
    Life....the original terminal illness

  15. #15
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    I haven't had a knee injury like others in here, but I have had my share of injuries. The 2 big ones -a 4x4cm cyst in my left ankle where all the bones come together (Airborne training accident) and a broken left elbow (goofing off).

    The elbow took 2 surgeries, a set of pins and a 3rd surgery to take the pins out... all to get the joint back into a position to allow it to heal. Not exactly fun and that was how I got to spend one summer; well when the cast came off, I had a very small range of motion. Countless hours spent in a pool swimming laps and my full range of motion came back.

    My thought is, have you considered pool time to help the knee with recovery? It would help take some of the stress off you knee plus still give you a good cardio workout. I know it will not replace getting a good run in. Trust me; I do understand that, as I am an avid runner myself... but if it helps...
    There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart
    ...pursue those.

  16. #16
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    Actually, the last month or so before my knee surgery I started swimming and lifting weights more and more because I knew that at least for a while, that would be my primary means of working out. I like swimming, and have done it off and on for triathlon training and whatnot. I will definitely be doing that as soon as I'm able to. Thanks.

    ER

  17. #17
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    The weekend before I had my knee surgery I:

    Hiked four (!) 14'rs in Colorado. The last one, Mt. Yale, was straight freakin' up, like going up stairs four at a time. Coming down was the same. I said to my hiking partners (I had great knees at the time)..."I wonder how our knees can take this shiz??"

    The next day I went to Crested Butte and road all the big ones: 401, 403 and Teocali Ridge. While grinding up Teocali I mentioned to my riding partners "yeah, and I just hiked four fourteeners the past two days". They looked at me like I was crazy.

    The next Thursday my knee locked up, Friday I had surgery...and I haven't been the same since. I can't believe I used to do the stuff I could to my knees. I figured it was always just a matter of how bad I wanted it. Now it's "how much will my knees let me get away with."
    A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett

  18. #18
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    Can you tell us more about how the Chi Gong helps?

    Thanks.

  19. #19
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    additional strengthening ideas...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Dolor
    from a strictly mechanical perspective, the Horse Stance is a progressive isometric strength exercise that involves all of the muscles of the lower limb as well as of the lower torso. The steady pressure on the bone ends seems to have a stimulating and strengthening effect on the cartilage.
    Great post (both of them), thanks.


    My mother is an RN at an internal medicine clinic. Any time she hears of me injuring myself (or the bf injuring himself), she is almost over-loading me with information. Several times she has told me to get into a form of Tia Chi for as a low impact strengthening workout. I take her recommendations seriously. She's been spot on before.

    I'm a very aggressive female, from my job to my work-outs and my attitude towards life. For years I believed that if you were not exhausted, covered in sweat and generally wore out from a workout, you were not doing yourself any good. However, I now mix up my workouts. Between weights in the gym, running I have also got into yoga for flexibility, Pilates core-strengthening (this works my abs like nothing I have ever found!). The low impact workouts have made a difference like I would have never imagined. The yoga and Pilates have also helped to cut back on injuries (whether it is work related or on my off time).
    There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart
    ...pursue those.

  20. #20
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    I hear a lot of anecdotal stories about "cures" for knee osteoarthritis. It's what I do for a living.

    After hearing this, that & the other thing time & time again I've come to the following conclusions:

    some "alternative" modalities may help some people. most do nothing aside from placebo effect. I say this not to repudiate anyone's personal experience since each body is different, but statistically speaking these types of things have no benefit.(including glucosamine which has been shown in numerous double-blind placebo controlled studies in prominent peer-reviewed journals to have about as much effect as tylenol).

    Just an FYI. Buyer beware.

    strengthening: good
    flexibility: good
    balance: good
    Last edited by The Squeaky Wheel; 03-01-2008 at 06:24 AM.
    Life....the original terminal illness

  21. #21
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    About that glucosamine

    Quote Originally Posted by The Squeaky Wheel
    I hear a lot of anecdotal stories about "cures" for knee osteoarthritis. It's what I do for a living.

    After hearing this, that & the other thing time & time again I've come to the following conclusions:

    some "alternative" modalities may help some people. most do nothing aside from placebo effect. I say this not to repudiate anyone's personal experience since each body is different, but statistically speaking these types of things have no benefit.(including glucosamine which has been shown in numerous double-blind placebo controlled studies in prominent peer-reviewed journals to have about as much effect as tylenol).

    Just an FYI. Buyer beware.

    strengthening: good
    flexibility: good
    balance: good
    My left knee, after I had it scoped, would pop so loudly while hiking in Canyonlands it would echo off the walls. I would always always have a knee wrap handy for when it would start to swell. An older buddy of mine finally said that he'd been taking Glucosamine Sulfate for his arthritic hip for the past six months. Since it worked for him he decided to tell me about it (this was about a year after my scope). I was already taking ibuprofen. Within two weeks of starting to take the glucasmine (only one 500 mg tab daily) my knee stopped swelling, I stopped having to wrap my knee all the time. In fact, the next time I was in Canyonlands I actually forgot about how much it used to pop and swell. Only when I got back home did I say, wow, didn't have to wrap my knee at all.

    Chondroitin was ineffective for me. I told a subcontractor, who it turned out had a real painful hip, about both glucosamine and chondroitin. He started with the glucosamine first and after a few weeks he came up, shook my hand and thanked me profusely for turning him onto it. He then tried the chondroitin but it had the effect of making him gain weight (like his tissues were absorbing water or something) and didn't help anymore with the pain than the glucosamine, so he stopped taking the chondroitin.

    Anecdotal evidence? Urban legend? Pure coincidence? Placebo effect? I don't care which of these, all I know is glucosamine sulfate worked and is still working for me. I need to try out that Horse Stance, though. I wonder if that will make me faster down Porcupine Rim?
    A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett

  22. #22
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    good that it worked for you. Every now & then I hear positive stories.
    More often than not I hear that it did nothing.

    But like I said, people are stats - people are people. So long as it's safe I don't object.

    BTW, the studies which have shown any positive effect from glucosamine have been done at the 1,500mg daily dose and benefit only shown for knee arthritis. Studies of the hip, shoulder, hands, etc have all shown no benefit.
    Life....the original terminal illness

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Dolor
    from a strictly mechanical perspective, the Horse Stance is a progressive isometric strength exercise that involves all of the muscles of the lower limb as well as of the lower torso. The steady pressure on the bone ends seems to have a stimulating and strengthening effect on the cartilage.

    When it's done properly, it also balances the ligaments and tendons, and strengthens them, too.

    From another perspective, originating in the traditional Fighting Arts, it "ties" the upper body to the foundation ,or "roots" of the legs, which allows for the legs and core muscles to do most of the work in any given upper body task.

    The connection, or bridge between the legs and the torso is created in part by strengthening the psoas muscles, which the horse stance also accomplishes, if it's done correctly.

    And from an "energetic" perspective......... well, that's a whole 'nother ball of wax.

    BTW, I have also seen very goode results with dealing with various post-surgical issues with the knee, thru acupuncture. Acupuncture functions, so to speak, like a form of controlled, "programmed" Chi gong.
    Thanks Ray. I'll look into that and see what we have around here as far as that goes.

  24. #24
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    Had my first PT appointment today. Therapist said I was at -9 extension and 30 flex. Told me to take more pain meds next time I come in and gave me some exercises to do. Feeling pretty disgusted with the whole ordeal, but I guess that's normal. Least I'm relatively healthy and happy right

    ER

  25. #25
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    No good It'd be quicker to cut it off and attach a prosthesis

    Had my Post-OP today. News is nicht so gut. Doc says that my lateral meniscus tear was one of the worst he's ever seen and says I need to expect a very long recovery. Also told me that he was going to look into getting me a Meniscus Transplant (6 months recovery ) pretty soon, so I am thinking my bikes are gonna be lonely for a while.

    Good news is I don't have to work for 6 more weeks, and I get paid salary.

    ER

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