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Old 06-26-08, 12:43 AM   #1
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Racing with a torn Meniscus

A recent MRI revealed that I have a torn meniscus and mild arthritus in my right knee. The tear is in the thick part of the meniscus so my doctor said it would be better not to operate since this would aggravate the arthritus. He told me not to run but that bicycling should be fine. My concern is that his idea of bicycling might be riding around the block and he may not understand that I like to ride hills and sometimes grind out gears in the process.
I have been a recreational racer off and on for many years and now race Master 4 as a 36 year old. The question I have is if anyone else has this problem and what measures can be taken to minimize the discomfort and/or prevent further injuring my knee. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-26-08, 08:10 AM   #2
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I partially tore my LCL and PCL back in January. I was expressly told not to run, and even walking would irritate the area - but cycling was never a problem. I don't race ('cept for a TT here n there), but my rides are typically 40-50 miles with a decent amount of climbing, and I do some interval training as well.

I think your injury is worse than mine, but if your doc says it's ok, I say go out there and see how you feel. Soreness after the fact is probably normal, but if you have any pain during your rides, ease up a bit.
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Old 06-26-08, 12:41 PM   #3
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I am a recreational weekend warrior but I have torn both ACLs playing soccer and with the last surgery they unfortunately removed 60% of my lateral meniscus(not sure if that matters). Granted i am still in recovery, surgery in February, but running makes my knee swell up. I can punish myself on the bike with no/limited pain. My trainer at college says that if it doesn't hurt, go for it. Just my two cents, you still have to live life.
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Old 06-29-08, 03:57 PM   #4
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I had surgery in October to repair a torn meniscus. The injury was the result of extreme hyperflexing and twisting over a period of years (yoga and rock climbing). Cycling involves a very controled and limited range of motion, no matter how hard you are pedaling, and there should be zero twisting forces on your knee. The doctor had me on the bike for PT within a few weeks of the surgery. Now, almost nine months later, I'm still reluctant to rock climb because I could find myself in a situation where I'm committed to making a move that might "pop" my knee again. Also, I'm pretty sure my other knee has a small tear that could worsen. Consequently, I've been riding my bike a lot, and my knees feel great. As for yoga, there are many poses I will never do again.

I would suggest that your doc is probably correct in saying that you can ride as much and as hard as you like, because, given the range of motion in cycling, the tear isn't likely to get worse. However, I'm assuming that your injury resulted from extreme hyperflexing/twisting as well. I'm not an expert, and perhaps there are other ways to tear the meniscus. But I do know that the hyperflexing/twisting is the most common way to get the injury. That said, if the tear is really bad, then perhaps even the range of motion in cycling (pushing hard on the pedal at the top of the stroke is where the knee would be the most vulnerable) is enough to aggravate the tear. This is a judgement call for you and your doc to make. I would just be as explicit as possible when discussing and asking questions.

The bummer about meniscus tears is that they don't heal on their own. You can only prevent them from getting worse by limiting your range of motion. If intend you do other sports/activities that may aggravate the tear, then you might consider the surgery option sooner rather than later, because the worse the tear gets, the less likely it will be repairable, and in that case the torn section will have to be removed. The loss of this cushion in your knee will make long term arthritis much more likely and possibly limit your activity level later on.

Hope this helps

Last edited by northboundtrain; 06-29-08 at 04:04 PM.
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