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Thread: Torn Meniscus?

  1. #1
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    Torn Meniscus?

    Well crap... It turns out that my knee pain is in fact a torn meniscus...
    While I am not looking for an interwebz diagnosis, I am interested in others experiences with this. My doctor wants to "scope it".
    Who has had this done? How was your recovery? complete/partial etc. How about time off the bike? How long before you were able to ride/race?
    He said its ok to ride before the "scoping" but suggested that I don't crash... hmmm...
    I'm not planning on racing again until I get this done, but am still doing my version of "training".
    Let me hear your stories of knee woes and speedy recovery.
    Thanks, Z

  2. #2
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    I had osteochondritis dissecans in my knee for a while for the last two years. Basically, instead of the cartilage in the meniscus being damaged, it's the cartilage on the end of the femur that's wearing away.

    Before the surgery, it felt fine as long as I didn't apply too much stress -- so pretty much the only activity I could do without pain was cycling. I had to forego several backpacking trips with my scout troop due to the knee problems.

    I had an arthroscopy/microfracture procedure in August 2009. My surgeon told me to wait a full year before I could continue full activity. I was back to walking and light jogging/exercise (no riding) by the following winter; walking by November or so (I think) and jogging by the beginning of January 2010.

    Went on a backpacking trip to Henry Coe State Park (in California) in April 2010. Four miles into the trip, my knee collapsed. Me being me, instead of turning around and hanging out by the cars, I decided to suffer through the pain for 17 more miles. I got home, went to the doctor.... yep, something screwed up the cartilage again. So I went to a special specialist at UCSF. He told me I could either opt for a more invasive surgery, or forego it and have my entire knee replaced at 25 years old. I was 16 then.

    I was allowed pretty much as much activity as I could handle at this point; the surgeon saw no point in protecting a knee that was just going to be cut open again soon.

    So I went back for an OATS procedure/mosaicplasty in December 2010. Started physical therapy a week after the surgery, and I was walking by February. Started jogging in late May, I think, with as much road riding as I could get. I was allowed full activity in early June, and, well, I haven't really looked back. I followed my surgeon's instructions a lot more closely the second time around, and my knee feels pretty much good. High-frequency stuff like riding on rough dirt trails with 130 PSI 23mm tires still doesn't really agree with my knee, but I can live with that. The knee feels great on the mtb, and I only ride a singlespeed mountain bike.

    The main thing I can tell you is to follow the doctor's directions. Get a second opinion (I forgot about that part -- my very first doctor completely missed the diagnosis, which probably made the cartilage problem even worse).
    See if you can find a sport's doctor.
    Take it easy. When in doubt, wait another week or so, at least. It's a lot easier to stay off the bike for an extra month now than it is to get on the bike now, screw up the knee again, and miss six more months + recovery because you needed a second surgery.
    I've made some bad decisions like taking the gears off my bike. So here's the warning: Do not as I say, nor as I do.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zstrange View Post
    Well crap... It turns out that my knee pain is in fact a torn meniscus...
    While I am not looking for an interwebz diagnosis, I am interested in others experiences with this. My doctor wants to "scope it".
    Who has had this done? How was your recovery? complete/partial etc. How about time off the bike? How long before you were able to ride/race?
    He said its ok to ride before the "scoping" but suggested that I don't crash... hmmm...
    I'm not planning on racing again until I get this done, but am still doing my version of "training".
    Let me hear your stories of knee woes and speedy recovery.
    Thanks, Z
    I've had both knees done (torn meniscus) via arthroscopic surgery. Neither knee was able to have the meniscus "repaired" as they ended up just removing the torn portion.

    The first one tore during a basketball pick-up game and it swelled up like a grapefruit within a few minutes. Surgery was within 48 hours of the tear. Recovery was slow as it was winter, but getting on the exercise bike helped me go on a planned skiing trip 4 weeks post surgery. I mostly favored my other leg during the skiing as I wasn't really ready to be skiing full tilt on the repaired knee. I would say the sweet spot of recovery for that knee was out in the 6 month - 12 month tire frame following the surgery. By the time I got closer to 12 months out from the surgery everything felt back to normal strength and power was back to pre-tear status without any pain.

    The other knee required me to wait 6 weeks before a scheduled surgery date opened up in the surgeon's book. It was less of a hassle surgery wise than the first surgery, but the muscles in that leg certainly got weak having to wait that long which required a longer recovery to get them back to full strength following the surgery. I wore one of those air filled leg casts for about a week or two, iced it all the time, and slowly began to exercise the muscles. Again, it was fall/winter time and I used the exercise bike and weights to rehab and recover. I was feeling pretty good full leg strength wise about 5-6 months out, and pain free 8 months post surgery. You won't be inactive during the recovery period, it just takes time to build up the strength again to full power. Those leg muscles atrophy pretty quickly following a tear - especially if you favor your "good" leg.

    All the best.

    BB
    The 14 warmest years have all occurred in the 16 years since 1997.

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    Tore mine years ago in a mtb crash. Went to doc, who was a roadie, said we could scope or just leave it and deal with the pain and eventually the pain would go away. Said that riding was a great way to strenthen the knee to compensate for the torn miniscus. Was painful for several months but eventually went away. Didn't negatively effect riding to any degree other than the minimal pain.

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    I have had a tear removed/repaired twice in one knee. The only symptoms I had was occasional twinge and couldn't bend my knee all the way (such as squatting down). They also cleaned out the back of the knee cap. The pain after the surgery was minimal and I was on the elliptical within 4 weeks and ready to bike by 6 weeks post surgery.

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    I had a "buckle handle" tear in each knee a few years back. Doc offered to do one, wait 6 weeks and then the other. I had him do both at the same time. I was on the couch for 3 days and then up and around. Back on the bike in two weeks (the full revolution hurt, but commuted 14miles to work). No real pressure on the pedals, but I'd say that I was pedaling with pressure in a month, riding decent in 3 and back to normal in 6-9 months. I scheduled mine in August and wrote off the rest of that season. Back to normal the following spring.

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    I am in the same boat w/ the op. Still waiting for my MRI in Aug 25 to "confirm" the meniscus tear. I am seeing the orthopedic spine sport med group at Emory in Atlanta. As of right now, i'm icing it everyday. Having touch the bike in two weeks. I think i torn it during the ski trip in Utah last winter and reinjure it in april playing basketball. We'll see what my options are after the MRI.

  8. #8
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    I have had both my knees scoped. The left knee healed fine with no issues and I was back riding in 3 weeks and riding hard a few months later.

    My right knee had about 30% of the meniscus removed from the inside horn 7 years ago. I still get twinges pain there when skiing and hiking steep grades. I had to quit running, but cycling has not been an issue other than this right knee is pretty sensitive to correct saddle height. I actually think that the strength gained from cycling has helped keep my knees stable and supported.

    The surgeon said we could discuss a meniscus transplant on the right knee if it gets worse down the road. For now I am happy that my 46 year-old body has made it this far and is still moving forward considering all the rugby, hockey, road and xc racing, tele skiing and other abuse it has been subjected to.
    Last edited by h2o-x; 08-05-2011 at 10:30 PM.

  9. #9
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    The answer is that it really depends on your situation. 9 yrs ago I had my knee scoped; meniscus removed and parts of both, ACL and MCL carved out since those were beginning to tear as well. I couldn't run 3 steps without excruciating pain.

    After the procedure I was off the crutches within 48 hours and had full range of motion in 6-8 weeks. I was religious about the therapy and listening to the docs orders and recommendations but mine may not have been as bad as many of these stories. I was playing soccer until then and wasn't riding at that time. That incident actually got me on the bike. My knees were really strong when it happened so I'm sure that contributed greatly to my recovery time.

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