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Old 02-21-06, 03:28 PM   #1
Snuffleupagus
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Torn meniscus and ACL...off the bike for a while, but how long?

So yes, I understand this is far from a hospital, and yes, I'm having plenty of medical attention - I'm just looking for personal experiences here.

I went skiing on monday, after two sweet days of MTB'ing in WNC (got a ride in with mtnbiker66 too, good guy, good ride). The ski session didn't go nearly as well as the biking however, and long story short, I made a sharp, off camber left turn over a bumpy section, and had a nasty crash.

The inital diagnosis is at least a torn meniscus, and probably/possibly a torn ACL. I'm waiting for an MRI to determine the exact issue.

Right now, I'm laid up, high as a kite on percocet with my leg in an immobilizer - which is a good bit more fun than driving from Beech Mtn to the ER in Boone, and then from Boone back to the 'Nam

So, anyone else who has experienced anything similar care to share how long it took them to get back on the bike? If I have to wait more than a month or so to get back on at least my road bike, I may go a little wacky
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Old 02-21-06, 03:44 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Snuffleupagus
So, anyone else who has experienced anything similar care to share how long it took them to get back on the bike? If I have to wait more than a month or so to get back on at least my road bike, I may go a little wacky
Too may variables, too little info.

Worst case you're going to have surgery to replace the ACL and clean up the meniscus. If you opt for a patella graft for the ACL or a donor (cadaver) ACL your recovery times will vary.

Even with the shorter recovery times nowadays, you're looking at weeks off of the bike in anything other than a trainer scenario. Anything sooner and the risk of tearing the new, and still fragile, ACL is great.

I found that percocet was especially nice with a few margaritas...
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Old 02-21-06, 03:54 PM   #3
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Mod(s) I should have put this thread in general cycling, and I just did - this one could probably be deleted/merged...
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Old 02-21-06, 03:57 PM   #4
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It's probably going to take as long as your doctor and physical therapist say it will take.

Good luck with the healing!

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Old 02-21-06, 04:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by koffee brown
It's probably going to take as long as your doctor and physical therapist say it will take.

Good luck with the healing!

Koffee
About the Doc and PT, I know...I'm just a little antsy right now and absorbing any information I can.

Thanks, btw.
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Old 02-21-06, 04:26 PM   #6
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Sorry for your troubles.I tore my ACL-+meniscus waaay back in 1968.
How long depends on the ACL.
1)If it is completely torn,and you decide to have a repair done,you will be at least 6 wks on longer off the bike.Rehabs are much much faster than they were years back.The concern will be to not tear the graft(cadaver or your own tendon pulled through) or where the graft is anchored.Falling off the bike-catching yourself on the bad leg could pull the repair out.It is more a concern for the anchor points than the actual graft.
2)If it is torn,and you don't have any repair,and not arthroscopy to "clean up" the menis. then it will be quick-They will wait until the initial swelling goes down and then rehab will start-wk or 2??There won't be any reason to restrict biking,what can happen"tear your ACL?"
3)If it isn't torn,but you get scoped-clean up-maybe a couple of weeks.
4)" " " no scope-just till initial swelling-7-10 days.
I passed on ACL surgery in 1968 and 1991,but I might pay for that with a knee replacement someday??
Good luck.You will be back on the bike fairly quickly.If you have the surgery,take whatever suggestion your surgeon gives on how soon to return (he might say 3 months?) to return very literally.It won't be so hard,you can put the bike on a windtrainer.Have him-MD-give you firm numbers on when you can pedal,and when you can actually bike.The rehab will have to doing ROM and strength training very quickly(it will hurt a bit and feel like there is painful flypaper inside your knee being slowly pulled apart).Luck,Charlie
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Old 02-21-06, 05:05 PM   #7
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I rode from last May until this past week on a torn ACL. I didnt know it was torn. just that my knee hurt most of the time. its only a slight tear so therapy is the direction for now and she( therapist) says biking is not out but obstacles are for now. I can ride the trails as long as I ride small gears and no aggressive stuff. spinning is better than sitting and better in Feb. than June.
Im off the bike this week as she has taped my knee cap in a way to move it back to center( like braces on teeth) and biking could pull the tape loose. next week, stonger tape for more pull but also back on the bike.
good luck ad todays treatments are amazing at how short the heal time is. I guess thats one of the benefits of having the overpayed atheletes. the owners want them performing asap and the technology has trickled down to us working stiffs
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Old 02-21-06, 05:42 PM   #8
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Dude, I leave you alone for one flippin day and look at what you did to yourself! I'm really sorry to hear about your knee. You totaly kicked my tail on the climbs this weekend. If you tried to ride now with your knee screwed up you would still beat me by five min. Hope it turns out for the best. Sorry I bailed on ya on Sun. I felt like death warmed over. If you get back up we'll get more riding in next time. I feel like I let you down,sorry.
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Old 02-21-06, 08:34 PM   #9
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You will be able to start some easy riding , on the road preferbly in 6 months. Avoid hills.
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Old 02-21-06, 09:26 PM   #10
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I tore my ACL and they thought I tore my miniscus too, so they did serious surgery, not orthroscopic. They did that on oct. 22, 1999, and I was playing baseball by march the next year. I wasn't riding at the time, so I can't give an estimate for that. They did have me on a stationary recumbant though for the PT. Oh, but it turned out that I didn't tear my miniscus just my ACL, so they did whatever they do and I now have screws in my knee, and a degree from ga tech, instead of the naval academy, but that's another story.
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Old 02-21-06, 09:33 PM   #11
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I've had 6 knee surgeries; all on my left knee - 5 for a torn medial meniscus (over and over and over) and my last was an ACL reconstruction.

The scenarios:

1) if you didn't tear the ACL and only have to have the meniscus taken care of you could be riding in three weeks or so - totally dependent upon the physical therapy and how quick you work the swelling out of your knee. My first surgery I had a great sports medicine department at school and was going to PT twice a day - my afternoon session was a pool workout. I went from OR to Spring Training for rowing in three weeks and was able to run about a mile on the knee. On surgery #2, the swelling just wouldn't go down so the Doc used a syringe and drained about 100cc of fluid from my knee. The rest of the recoveries were fine - about a month later I was good to go with minimal pain. The first few days will hurt and hurt bad. Be a pu$$y and take the drugs - as you know, they're good ones.

2) you need an ACL repair. I completely tore mine and to repair it, they took a graft from my hamstring tendon (2/3s of it) and used that to make my new ACL. Because of the trauma to the knee, most orthopedic surgeons will try to stay away from taking a graft from the patella tendon (they give you a nice 4 or 5 inch incision right down the center of your knee and take the middle third of the tendon that holds your kneecap in place). That huge incision really hampers your recovery and being able to move your knee for rehab. Some surgeons are using grafts from cadaver tendons; this is ideal because the trauma of the surgery will be minimized as there is no graft harvesting from some tendon. Regardless, your new ACL won't be full strength for a few months (lots of reasons) so I (and I'm guessing your surgeon will say the same) would say that you should be off of the trails until that point, but you should be able to ride a road bike as soon as you have rehabed to the point that you can do it pain free. You don't want to tear your new ACL and have to go through the process again. Oh this will hurt too - and mine hurt a ton more because it wasn't just a simple scope. They cut out part of my hamstring tendon. I went through percocet, vicodin, and finally oral demerol did the trick. It was yummy.

BTW - after my first surgery, the Doc told me that I should stop skiing. I was 19 and had been skiing for 15 years so it was hard, but I haven't been on skis since...just a thought. Amazing enough, I went two years with a completely torn ACL before they figured it out - strong quads will work wonders for knee rehabilitation and just plain holding the knee together.

I'd be happy to answer any specific questions you have. Unfortunately, while I may be a pro at going through knee surgery, it also means that I'm a great candidate for a replacement soon after I'm 50 and at 32 I already have a bunch of arthritis, but thank god the Navy buys a crapload of 800mg Motrin.

Oh, and this knee kept me from becoming a Marine...the doc looked at me (after 3 surgeries at that point) and said "No way in hell - NPQ Marine Corps."
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Old 02-21-06, 09:44 PM   #12
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BTW - after my first surgery, the Doc told me that I should stop skiing. I was 19 and had been skiing for 15 years so it was hard, but I haven't been on skis since...just a thought.
Sometimes you need to take these kinds of dire warnings with a grain (or block) of salt.

I was 20 when I blew my knee up skiing while qualifying for a race. I severed the ACL/PCL/MCL/LCL and tore up tmy medial meniscus. My knee was fileted and the structures were fixed as best as possible. My knee is still sloppy compared to my uninjured knee. My ortho told me that I would probably have to use a cane to walk and that I could never ski again. After 9 weeks in a full leg cast and 7 months of PT I started skiing again (braced). I have continued to ski, windsurf, ride, trail run, wakeboard, etc, etc. ever since.

If your doc is giving you that type of advice, and you want to continue with your pre-injury activities, get a second, third, or fourth opinion.
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Old 02-21-06, 09:54 PM   #13
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If your doc is giving you that type of advice, and you want to continue with your pre-injury activities, get a second, third, or fourth opinion.
At that point, rowing was much more important to me than skiing. I was rowing at a very high level and didn't want to jeapordize that. Also, I didn't want to end up in EXACTLY the same boat that alcahueteria did. Could I have kept skiing? Definitely. But since I had 4 surgeries within 4 years, I'm glad I didn't. Hindsight, it was a good decision for me to stop at that point in my life. I still run, play football and basketball, and am just as active as I ever was - except for the skiing. That said, before surgery #4, the Doc told me to sign up for the 'three mile a year' running plan - corresponds with the semi-annual PT tests. Right - that's one I have disregarded. I was training for a 1/2 marathon last fall, but my knee told me that enough was enough one day after a 10 mile trail run...I cut that sillyness out. Still run, but no more than 3-4 miles at a time.

On another note, I can't imagine tearing EVERY ligament in a knee. I'd be surprised if they could have gotten that back to 'good as new.'
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Old 02-21-06, 10:20 PM   #14
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Thanks for the stories guys.

I can only hope that I recover as well or better from this as I did from the broken leg I got when I was 17 in a motorcycle accident - the result of which was the orthopedic surgeon telling me I might never be able to run like I could before the break (and up until the 20th of February...I was faster).

And yes mtnbiker66, I fully blame you for my skiing mishap I never liked taking responsibility for my actions anyway
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Old 02-21-06, 11:14 PM   #15
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On Jan 11 I skied into a closed rope at Copper Mtn. It was like a bungie cord and catapulated me backwards. I tore the mcl and acl in my right knee. I'm scheduled for acl surgery next Tues. My ortho wanted the mcl to heal and get strong before surgery so I've spent the last 5 weeks doing pt.

Part of my pt is riding my bike on the trainer. At first it hurt so much I couldn't pedal very much and couldn't clip my foot in so I used a platform pedal. It took about 5 min. before I could spin with easy resistance. I could only spin at 40-50 rpm. I rode every day and it didn't take long before I was spinning at 85-90 rpm.

I didn't have any swelling or pain from the acl and still don't, it was all pain from the mcl and a bone bruise, but I only needed advil. Now I'm only taking tylenol when my knee bothers me

I now have almost all my range of motion, strength and can spin on the bike like I have no injury. I did an hour of interval training yesterday and I'm no longer wearing the brace around the house.

If I only have an acl repair then I start rom immediately, and pt next Friday. I'll be able to walk as soon as I can and ride the trainer after the 1st week. If everything goes well, according to my ortho's phases of recovery I expect to be riding again around the 1st of June.

There is a 30% change I have a lateral menicus repair. If that is the case then I will be on crutches for 8 weeks. My ortho did say I could use the trainer with no resistance after 2 weeks. If that happens I have no idea when I can ride again.

My doc did not recommend skiing without the acl repair. By doing it now I'll be ready for next year.

I'm having a allograft (cadaver). My ortho thinks this is better because taking from the hamstring or patellar tendon will affect my cycling.

I'm feeling so good that I'm ready to bike and ski again. It's good that surgery is next week.

Good luck,

Kathi
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Old 02-21-06, 11:19 PM   #16
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the result of which was the orthopedic surgeon telling me I might never be able to run like I could before the break (and up until the 20th of February...I was faster).
He was right, in this case it was for the better.
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Old 02-22-06, 07:48 AM   #17
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Partial tear in my ACL years ago. Best advice I got was from my martial arts instructor. My knee wasn't very stable, and I was rehabing hard. He asked me how much I rehabed my hamstrings.

Ahh, not as much as my quads, especially since I had been biking as well as weights. I built up the strenght in my hamstrings quite a bit over the next months. What a difference!

Biking is not the problem anymore, it's the sudden stops or crashes. I still cringe when I have to quickly put down my leg in an akward situation. But it's been years, and no problem as of yet.
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Old 02-22-06, 10:04 AM   #18
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acl isnt that bad but a torn meniscus will take a while to heal up. my freind tore his meniscus last year and he still isnt totally healed. but he does whatever he wants now with no problem.

knee injuries are a killer. i have a disease in my left knee, calcium builds up under my knee cap. if i fall on a certain spot, it feels like someone stuck a knife straight through my leg.
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