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  1. #1
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    Torn Meniscus advice

    A question to anyone who has surgically repaired a torn meniscus:

    I have quite possibly torn mine. I am riding cross country starting June 17. My orthopedist thinks that an 8 week recovery would be no problem, but my physical therapist said that there was no way this was possible, and I would be lucky to be able to ride strenuously in 12 weeks. Has anyone experienced this, and do you know what the recovery time is like?

    Any advice/experiences would be much appreciated!

    Thanks, Elana

  2. #2
    Seńor Member SimiCyclist's Avatar
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    I suggest you get your orthopedist and PT in a dialog with each other. There may be specifics about your condition that the PT is unaware of, and vice versa.
    "We just don't recognize the most significant moments in our lives while they're happening. You say to yourself, 'there will be other days'. Then you realize it was the only day".

    Field of Dreams

  3. #3
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    After surgery to repair my meniscus I was walking around without crutches after a few days. My doctor told me he had a paitient run a 10k like 10 days after surgery. I get the impression that recovery varies greatly.

  4. #4
    Lost in the Black Hills mx_599's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElanaB
    A question to anyone who has surgically repaired a torn meniscus:
    i am not sure there are any orthopedic surgeons on this forum.

  5. #5
    Scottish Canuck in the US blue_nose's Avatar
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    I tore the meniscus on my left knee about two years ago. After about two or three days of some post-op stiffness and pain and started to recover quite nicely. I started spining lightly on an exercise bike after two weeks and was on the bike again after four to six weeks - can't quite remeber. The key was to stay of the hills at first and ease into it. After two months, I was good as new and riding about 100 miles a week again.

    Everyone is different, and not all tears are the same. I would consult with your orthopedic surgeon and make sure you find a good sports PT who is familiar with cycling.

  6. #6
    mriley
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    I had a torn medial meniscus repaired a few years ago. Off crutches in a week; limped for a few weeks; back to running slowly in about 8 weeks. Biking was sooner, but not hard. Be sure to ice the knee as much as you can each day. Get a device called a cryocuff (most hopitals will have it) and use it daily.
    M Riley

  7. #7
    Lost in the Black Hills mx_599's Avatar
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    why is everyone so anxious to get on their injured selfs?? you have one body...let it heal right. oh wait, what's that? you're going for the Gold...right. well in that case your body is expendable

  8. #8
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    Well, not sure of your specifics, but based on my experience I think your doc is right - you can do it. They recommend much quicker return to activity now, but it is still a pretty tight timeframe. What caused the injury - hopefully not biking? Assuming you are in good shape already, and you can get the surgery right away, it is possible, but you will need 3 months to recover and train up to the ride, doing mostly PT the first 3-4 weeks, then easy rides in second month, ramping up in third month, but not all-out or you will not heal correctly. Allow rest days at least 2-3 times per week and do not push in higher gears - learn to spin easy. I've had both my knees scoped for medial meniscus tears from running injuries, and here's what I did after the first one 10 years ago (at age 40).

    On Jan 30 (1996), I had my right knee scoped and was walking around within a couple days, back on a plane within a week, and on a bike within 3 weeks, but light load. Running short distances (3 mi) within a month, some gym work, and biking when in town but very little PT due to travel. Then in early April, two months after surgery, I signed up to do the AIDS benefit ride (SF to LA) and started biking regularly 3-4 times a week to prepare. Because I travelled for work, I had plenty of rest days and I think that is the key. I still was able to ramp up mileage on weekends considerably, and tried for a mid-week ride or two.

    Four months after my surgery, on June 2nd, I started the ride, avg 80 mi/day, 540 miles total, no problem - never was stronger. And keep in mind that I was more of a runner than a cyclist before the ride, so I had a steep curve to climb. And I did it on a mtn bike with slicks. So yeah, you can do it. Your training and PT plan has to be impeccable, and most importantly - do not push it too hard the first two months, ramp up slowly, and your tour will provide the final training you need, espec if you take it easy at first and allow for rest days here and there as you go. Remember - touring is about steady riding, taking time to smell the roses, and enjoying the view - not riding flat out. If you adopt that attitude, I think it is very do-able.

    good luck,

    -john
    Last edited by mtnroads; 03-04-06 at 12:35 AM.
    Specialized Roubaix SL4 Disc, Cannondale T2000 (touring), Stumpjumper M5 (Mtn - hardtail), Cannondale Rize4 (Mtn - full susp)

  9. #9
    bac
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    I'd be willing to bet that none of you had your meniscus REPAIRED - instead, you had a part of your meniscus REMOVED. A repair is very rare, and can only be done when specific criteria such as the length/position (outer 1/3, or red zone) of the tear, as well as the age of the patient are satisfied.

    The upside to a partial menisectomy (what I assume all the above have gotten) is that you can be back up, and walking within a few days. In general, you can return to intense sports activity in just a couple of weeks. The downside is that you now have more articular cartilage exposed, and therefore, have increased your chances for arthritis in the joint.

    A meniscal REPAIR (stitching the meniscus together so that it can heal) salvages your entire damaged meniscus, but the recovery is MUCH longer. You will be non-weight bearing (on crutches) for about 6 weeks, and will not be able to get back to intense exercise for nearly 6 months. Please don’t ask me how I know all this.

  10. #10
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    Go to a PT that specializes in sports therapy. And trust him. He/ she most likely will look at the X-rays and medical notes and he will have done it so many times before.

  11. #11
    C21 H30 O2 plantdude's Avatar
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    How bad is the tear? I had a meniscal tear in the left knee several years ago from getting hit by a truck while riding. I had the surgery, per recommendation of my orthopedist (as well as my lawyer). To be honest, I feel that I have more lasting symptoms from the actual surgery, than the meniscal tear itself. Although arthroscopic surgery is not very invasive, considering what knee surgery involved ten years ago, it is still invasive enough to cause lasting issues. Once someone goes in there and starts scraping around, sucking joint fluid out, etc., it will never be the same.

    Not too disuade you from surgery, but looking back in retrospect, I would have opted to not have the surgery so quickly after the injury, and to see if I could recover with out it. My lasting symptoms are relatively minor but nonetheless still present (and I feel these are from the surgery rather than the meniscal tear).

    Back to your question, I was on an airplane three days after the surgery, walking with a cane. Within two weeks I was on the bike, doing EASY spinning on the flats. Within a month, I'd say I was pretty much back to normal, although my fitness was lower than it had been previously, from lack of training.

  12. #12
    Scottish Canuck in the US blue_nose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mx_599
    why is everyone so anxious to get on their injured selfs?? you have one body...let it heal right. oh wait, what's that? you're going for the Gold...right. well in that case your body is expendable
    Actually, riding a bike is part of a good post-op therapy plan can actually help with the recovery. I don't think anyone here is advocating "going for the gold" after surgery.

  13. #13
    bac
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    Quote Originally Posted by plantdude
    Not too disuade you from surgery, but looking back in retrospect, I would have opted to not have the surgery so quickly after the injury, and to see if I could recover with out it. My lasting symptoms are relatively minor but nonetheless still present (and I feel these are from the surgery rather than the meniscal tear).
    Yup! I would also caution anyone who has a meniscus tear to go as conservative as possible in terms of treatment. Surgery should always be done as a last resort. Many times PT alone will fix your problem. However, as you can imagine, your surgeon may have other priorities.

    I would also advise anyone with a knee issue who is considering surgery to read “What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Knee Pain and Surgery” by Ronald Grelsamer, M.D. It’s an easy read with some valuable information regarding knee issues, and related surgery.

  14. #14
    Scottish Canuck in the US blue_nose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bac
    Yup! I would also caution anyone who has a meniscus tear to go as conservative as possible in terms of treatment. Surgery should always be done as a last resort. Many times PT alone will fix your problem. However, as you can imagine, your surgeon may have other priorities.

    I would also advise anyone with a knee issue who is considering surgery to read “What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Knee Pain and Surgery” by Ronald Grelsamer, M.D. It’s an easy read with some valuable information regarding knee issues, and related surgery.
    The key here is that every situation and injury is unique. In my situation, my tear caused a meniscal cyst to form on the outside of my knee and had tried orithodics and several attempts at PT. Nothing was working and my knee was in constant pain. My knee pain was removed in a few days after surgery. Understanding the risks before surgery is a very good idea and is a must.

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