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Thread: A Torn Meniscus

  1. #1
    Senior Member SiouzQ.'s Avatar
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    A Torn Meniscus

    Well, that nasty fall I took on my knees at Tent Rocks way back in March and then re-injured was actually a torn meniscus that I have been limping and hobbling around on since then. I finally bit the bullet and got an MRI while I still have Obamacare.

    Sooooo, who has had arthroscopic knee surgery? Did it help with the pain? Have you recovered all your previous mobility? What was the recovery and rehab like? The pain and lack of mobility has really dampened my activities this summer - I had all these grand plans of hiking in the mountains; the best I could manage has been a daily walk in my little village limping with a walking stick.

    I am just trying to decide what my course of action is going to be - trying to heal it myself hasn't work out so good. The only time I can schedule a quickie surgery is the end of October or early November.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    My DH tore his meniscus twisting when trying to navigate an awkward reach in the car. He had the arthroscopic surgery to repair it. He has no pain now, although he says his knee "will never be the same again" meaning he has no pain and walks perfectly normally, but he may never recover his golf swing or pick up running. I think that if he lost weight and was more active (guided by a physical therapist) he could get back to normal. He just isn't that motivated.
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    A very personal issue. Husband's doctor said it all depends on where the tear is located. Some areas are blood rich and can heal. Some are not and need surgery. Surgery is dependent on the state of the knee.

    Thankfully, hubby's exercise for 3 weeks on a trip we would not cancel (with a walker) apparently helped with the healing and he did not need surgery. Doctor told him surgery in his case would accelerate a total knee replacement. Doctor did not recommend surgery.

    He still has three different braces he wears for his knees depending on what stress he expects to place on them.

    I would ask a lot of questions.

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    most tears will not heal on their own. Some can be repaired and that's age dependent on whether it can work. Rarely do we repair over age 40.

    I would be more concerned about risk: if you leave a tear and it "flaps around" it will cause damage to the joint surface cartilage. Those divets grow and then rub on the other cartilage surfaces in the knee. This is a path you really don't want to take.

    I had my scope March 2016. Glad I did. My full active mobility has not returned but that is d/t the big hole I have in a femoral condyle right smack where we weightbear at full extension of the knee. I can walk fine with a short stride which prevents full extension. But I won't get it all back until I replace the knee

    So why am I glad I had the scope? I had a band of tissue scraping up my kneecap which was also painful. That's gone and kneecap cleaned up. I had a small tear of the meniscus in the back of my joint. That is cleaned up and no longer rubbing on the tibial surface. So....I have stopped the continued damage of joint surface which can buy me a few more years if I decide to live with this "hole in my condyle".

    My MRI showed nothing BTW. MRI is not infallible and in fact is considered just 50% or so reliable in knee and shoulder exams. My surgeon and I were both quite SHOCKED at what we saw on the "TV screen" when he did his initial "look around". We looked at the MRI again to be sure nothing was missed.....nope.

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    Mine healed on its own but it took a full year to get back to normal. Seeing a physical therapist who specialized in knees problems and doing the exercises was key in my case.

  6. #6
    Moderator Float On's Avatar
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    Sorry you fell at Tent Rocks. Were you on that main trail or further back? I really watched my foot placement when I was there last spring especially since I was hiking alone.
    I have a friend a couple years younger in Indiana. We visited them in '14 and she could barely walk. She had the surgery and is now a full year into running IronMan competitions!
    Float On: My "Happy Place" is on my little kayak in the coves of Table Rock Lake.

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    Senior Member CathyA's Avatar
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    I had a bad meniscus, but it was probably from arthritis. Here's how my situation went. I had a lot of pain. Saw a good sport's med doc. He did surgery and removed part of the torn meniscus. He didn't tell me to have P.T. immediately.....which was a big mistake on his part. I finally got P.T. and it didn't help much. In fact, my lower leg started turning outward (which can be common after this surgery), which caused me to have a foot neuroma and it has totally changed my right foot.....which hurts a lot now.
    Bottom line.......I would not have surgery until I had at least one course of P.T. The think some docs really downplay the benefit you can get from P.T. There are many muscles that help stabilize the knee, so I would definitely strengthen them first.
    You could also eventually look into those hyaluronic knee injections.
    On the other hand, my DH had meniscus repairs on both knees and did great. Do you have any arthritis? I think that might make a difference in the outcome.

  8. #8
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    *raises hand*
    Did it help? Absolutely. Recovered all previous mobility? Yes, considering I wasn't a prize racehorse to start with. Recovery and rehab were three-four days doing nothing but moving from bed to couch to bathroom in whatever order was necessary. I had a relative staying with us who insisted on immobility and gave me a look (you know the one) if I thought about, say, making my own lunch or getting ice for my knee. After that, more motion and more motion. Short walks. Longer ones. Stairs. More stairs. I would guesstimate that it took a good couple of months before I felt I could do everything I was doing before I did the damage.

    I will note that now the same knee occasionally "locks up" and requires a "pop" before it feels okay again. But it's not in the same location, it's not painful like it was before, and it does not impede mobility but for those few moments. I can't say if that is connected or coincidental.

    As for particulars, I was well over 50 when this happened. I am not arthritic AFAIK. CathyA is right on trying PT first. My PCP mentioned that if I went to see a surgeon before I saw a PT, the recommendation would be for surgery ("If all you have is a hammer..."). PT didn't help, but at least I exhausted that avenue. I haven't pursued PT for the current lockups because they're not as pressing a medical issue as others for me.

    In all, I'd say the worst part for me was sitting on my backside for as long as I had to. Building up the stamina for the kind of work I was putting on that knee took longer than I anticipated. I don't regret the surgery, but I might have timed it better.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

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    Senior Member SiouzQ.'s Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for weighing in, lots to consider here.

    Float On, I actually fell down a gravelly hill walking back to the parking lot at Tent Rocks. My feet slid and I pitched forward onto my knees bent under with my full weight. As I lay there stunned, I though for sure I had torn an ACL or something where they'd have to airlift me to Santa Fe. After lying there sniffiling for a few minutes I got myself up and hobbled to the car. For three weeks my left knee was extremely stiff and sore but I didn't go to the doctor. I figured all I needed to do was rest and ice and slowly gain mobility. By May it was feeling pretty darn good until I went to an exercise class one night and totally over did it I guess, because a few days later I could barely put any weight on it. I borrowed some crutches and curtailed most activity for a couple of weeks, used a lot of Ibuprofin and ice and took it easy. I started to do some easy walking and that's where I have been stuck all summer. I finally went to an Orthopedic Surgeon in early July. They took X-rays which came out okay, and gave me some exercises to do and also said to do a full week of intensive Ibuprofin and ice. They said if it wasn't better in 6-8 weeks to go get an MRI, so that is what I did.

    So here is where I am at with it - it hurts pretty much all the time, it's very difficult to get in and out of a car, I have a limp so it's painful to take even the easiest walks (let alone hiking) and it is interfering my sex life! As soon as I told that to the doctor he then recommended surgery, lol!

    I think I am inclined to have the arthroscopic surgery while I still have my ACA plan; I'm already near or at my deductible so it behooves me to get this done before the year is over. I have asked a lot of people who have had this and they have all given me positive reviews.

    PS: Physical therapy is going to be really hard out here in New Mexico; just trying to find a place that takes my insurance and the fact that it will be a long drive to get there is going to make it difficult to accomplish.

  10. #10
    Senior Member SiouzQ.'s Avatar
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    I finally got the date for my arthoroscopic (sp?) surgery ~ it will be on Oct.31, right after I get back from my trip back to Michigan for a visit. Which means I will be using my cane (if not crutches, which someone is loaning me) while I am there.

    I got passed off to a different doctor in the practice and he said it was definitely a bad tear (no WONDER it hasn't healed and it hurts a LOT lately), so surgery is in order. This is reminding me of the broken toe debacle from two years ago ~ same left leg with the same limping/hobbling which makes the right leg and knee hurt. Really, in the scope of things it's pretty minor, as I can still work at my job and in my studio, just no hiking which means very little exercise as of late. I can't wait for it to be fixed and to get my activities back!

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