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Meniscus help - ended my season in the gym

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

About a month ago I was using the leg press machine in the gym, moderate weight, something I've done many times before, and heard a little click in my left knee - must've had my foot twisted a bit. As the moderate pain and feeling of fullness persisted, about two weeks later I went to see my orthopod friend, and he diagnosed a moderate medial meniscus tear. No MRI yet. It hasn't felt any worse in the ensuing month, but no better either. Ski weather in SEPA has been lousy, almost as bad as last year, so I really haven't missed anything, but now I'm afraid to make one last March trip to VT because I think that trying to ski might make it feel a lot worse. I've put about 30 miles in on the road bike in the last couple of days without too much trouble, and a little ibuprofen, but I'm wondering if it's going to feel like this forever. I'm not interested in surgery, since the rehab protocol seems to be as long and elaborate as it was for my ACL graft (other leg). 

 

What I want to know: has anyone tried the "alternative" therapies advertised on the web, like cold compression and heated braces?

post #2 of 6

I've had two orthoscopic repairs for the medial meniscus on my left knee and last August had a MRI that showed a bone bruise and slight tears to the cartilage again from playing tennis. If you are riding a bike with little discomfort, I would give skiing a go. I have skied 23 days so far this season and only had some swelling and soreness back in December. Wear a tight neoprene brace for warmth and support, take ibuprofen, and ice your knee after skiing. You also might want to increase your workout level and see if the knee can handle the extra load. If it doesn't get worse then head to Vermont.

post #3 of 6

 "...I'm not interested in surgery, since the rehab protocol seems to be as long and elaborate as it was for my ACL graft (other leg)."

 

It depends on the procedure. If it's a trimming of torn cartilage, the rehab is nearly nothing. If it's a meniscus repair, as in sew it up and let it try to regenerate, then yes, it's a long and arduous rehab. However, without the MRI, it's difficult to say. I had my medial meniscus trimmed 6 1/2 years ago with no trouble at all. I walked out of the outpatient hospital, rested it with ice for two days, was on the stationary bike pedaling backwards to start after four days and walked the golf course carrying my bag after eight days. I was skiing in four weeks, post-op and could have skied sooner had the mountains been opened. I really never had much pain and the rehab was nothing more than described.

 

I would suggest the MRI and the diagnosis and resulting recommended procedure before I made the decision against surgery. It was the best thing I could have done following mine. I should mention that I don't really know how/when I tore mine but I knew after climbing/skiing Mt. Adams. My knee just didn't recover following the climb and I wasn't able to run on it or lift afterwards. I definitely had pain and it was restricting what I could do. The surgery fixed that and I've been fine and happy since.  Good luck.

post #4 of 6

I'd be cautious, have it checked out, but be equally cautious about surgery. I had a meniscus tear, not very painful, went into surgery expecting to be up and around in a week or so. They trimmed the tear, shaved the torn bits, excised the plica, removed scar tissue, did a lateral release and a microfracture (is there anything left they might have been able to bill the insurance company for?). The result, 6 months later is that after 8 weeks total non weight bearing, a month or so of partial weight bearing, and therapy since the pain is worse and I have trouble walking. The Doc says 9 months recovery is expected. I'm left with the suspicion a far more conservative course of action would have had a better result.

post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by oisin View Post

I'd be cautious, have it checked out, but be equally cautious about surgery. I had a meniscus tear, not very painful, went into surgery expecting to be up and around in a week or so. They trimmed the tear, shaved the torn bits, excised the plica, removed scar tissue, did a lateral release and a microfracture (is there anything left they might have been able to bill the insurance company for?). The result, 6 months later is that after 8 weeks total non weight bearing, a month or so of partial weight bearing, and therapy since the pain is worse and I have trouble walking. The Doc says 9 months recovery is expected. I'm left with the suspicion a far more conservative course of action would have had a better result.

So sorry, what a nightmare. I have a friend who woke up after having an unplanned microfracture after going in for a meniscus trim, and at that time it was 12 wk non-wt-bearing. She had a full-time job and two school-age kids, and had no plans at all for this major impact on her life. PISSED doesn't begin to describe it.

 

My physio suggests against meniscus surgery unless it is really bothering you, or messing up your daily routine in some manner. He agrees that doctors take out too much, and then you are left with nothing, leading more quickly to arthritis. I know it's a balance between injuring it further and maintaining the status quo, but this is what he sees.

post #6 of 6

If you're not experiencing clicking or catching with the injury, it's unlikely to be a candidate for surgury anyway.  Pain can be persistent with these but gradually disappears.  It's definitely an injury that prefers a couple days of rest rather than being tested and pounded into submissions (ask how I know).

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