Torn Meniscus

Matt Secrest

First Post
Just read Brett Jones' most recent article about his knee injury and recovery. I recently tore my meniscus for a second time, this time a bucket handle tear, full length tear where the meniscus has flipped over and is now M.I.A. Sounds like it may have been similar for Brett. Because of the limited blood flow and previous tear I was advised that repair has little chance of success and recovery could take 1 year. It was suggested that I take out the torn tissue and expect to get a knee replacement within 10 years. This seems a bit pessimistic to me, but as I am a vet with VA healthcare its hard to get a second opinion. I was curious if he opted for a meniscectomy (removal of damaged tissue), or repair and why? Or if anyone else has dealt with a similar injury. Some background I’m 28, relatively strong, am two months removed from the tear and am almost fully functional at this point. I understand no one can give medical advice on this post, however any suggestions or anecdotal advice would be much appreciated. Also I’m currently working my way through S&S with some simple SL work in warm up, and extra mobility work post workout to help strengthen the knee, working wonders so far. Thank you guys.
 

ali

Level 6 Valued Member
Surgery the great healer v time the great healer.
Had a left knee arthroscopy in mid 20s (soccer). Torn MCL in right knee with meniscus damage (skiing) followed by ripping my achilles same leg (soccer) in early 40s. 56 now, ran distance in mid 40s, marathon at 48, switched to sprinting early 50s, now competitively. Just to say.....don't be put off that your knee is dodgy, keep moving (without pain preferably!).
My ski injury came with the benefit and insight of a specialist knee doctor in the Swiss alps who has seen more knees than hot dinners probably who advised not to let a surgeon tooled up with a scalpel anywhere near my knee...on the basis that I already had had surgery on the other knee. Returning to the uk, a later mri scan revealed the damage and advice was to operate. I decided to decline.
Some years later - actually on my 50th birthday walking around Berlin - I had some annoying pain issues in my right knee which got worse and had it looked at. Both knees were scanned as a comparison. My left knee - the one with no pain - had no meniscus at all, my right was worn to almost nothing. "quite common for your age' was the take....'with a lot of wear and tear, it's to be expected'....'could be genetic, arthritic generalised pain'......'better take it easy'....
I don't know, really no idea if I should have listened to the advice or not. Maybe in years to come I'll regret not doing so.
I'm tempted to go to the docs for a scan of both knees again because I don't seem to have the same knees that I had 6 years ago. About 4 years ago I pinged something in my knee jumping a wall and had some pain for a while, also had an accident on ice walking my dog and pulled something which resulted in knee pain so it's not as if I've been pain or injury free at all since, really.
I have full range of motion. Can deep squat. Can pistol squat again (I lost it for a while)....so I'm not limited in any movement.
It's a call to make if you should have surgery and each need will be different. But going back to the knee doc I had, a conversation I vividly recall, he said then that advances in knowledge about how our ability to repair ourselves suggests that given time we can. BUT, and it is a big but, something which requires maybe an element of luck if it was the right call or not, do we have the time? We want to be fixed and demand it now.....so no answers, flip a coin, who knows. Anyway that conversation was 15 years ago. I'm not sure if the surgery v time issue is any clearer.
I do a lot of mobility now though on my ankles, knees and hips. As well as strength, and high load full intensity sprinting, I do Feldenkrais method. I can't say which one impacts me the most, in terms of knees. All of them. Without one, there is no other, they all bounce off each other.
I know of other guys my age who have had some good results from surgery and some very bad ones too. It's a tough call...but don't be disheartened by dodgy knees. Knee circles and sitting in seiza with support is a good non invasive try out with the caveat of zero pain or discomfort.
Elective surgery is a personal decision. Some injuries perhaps are more responsive to surgery, others more risky, who knows. Tough call to make.
 

Deleted member 5559

Guest
First meniscus tear: went one year on it including a deployment. Had surgery to remove it. No real difference between pre and post surgery. Recovery was quick because it was primarily just swelling and pain from the invasiveness rather than any real healing occurring.

ACL tear: went one year on it including a deployment. Had surgery to replace with hamstring tendon. Definite improvement in knee stability post surgery but still never really recovered from the atrophy.

Second meniscus tear: been a year with no surgery and I don't ever intend to fix it because it gives me no issues. It took quite a while for the pain and swelling to subside this second time though. Probably took longer because I still ran and strength trained regularly on it for work.

Since meniscus doesn't really heal, if it doesn't give you pain after waiting a couple months, I wouldn't opt for surgery personally.
 

TPC

Level 4 Valued Member
My left meniscus tore about 10 years ago, I was advised to get my knee replaced (the specialist had replaced thousands of knees, and insisted both of mine were shot). I ignored him. Then my knee started locking and really hurting. Lots of Aleve and Tylenol (which I normally try to avoid).

I began rowing on a Concept 2, many times a week, not vigorously. Just a lot of easy rowing, getting a good bend in the knee and a lot of blood into the joint. You'll feel the knee gently opening when you're going into the catch. That is where I would recommend starting. Original Strength rocking kind of feels the same on my knees so this is another option, but rowing has a bigger range of motion.

I still row when I get the occasional sore hip or knee or ankle. It really gets the blood into the joints without stress. Today my knees are both fine.

Good luck Matt!
 

JamesPTA

Level 5 Valued Member
Just read Brett Jones' most recent article about his knee injury and recovery. I recently tore my meniscus for a second time, this time a bucket handle tear, full length tear where the meniscus has flipped over and is now M.I.A. Sounds like it may have been similar for Brett. Because of the limited blood flow and previous tear I was advised that repair has little chance of success and recovery could take 1 year. It was suggested that I take out the torn tissue and expect to get a knee replacement within 10 years. This seems a bit pessimistic to me, but as I am a vet with VA healthcare its hard to get a second opinion. I was curious if he opted for a meniscectomy (removal of damaged tissue), or repair and why? Or if anyone else has dealt with a similar injury. Some background I’m 28, relatively strong, am two months removed from the tear and am almost fully functional at this point. I understand no one can give medical advice on this post, however any suggestions or anecdotal advice would be much appreciated. Also I’m currently working my way through S&S with some simple SL work in warm up, and extra mobility work post workout to help strengthen the knee, working wonders so far. Thank you guys.
Hi matt,

Recovery from a meniscus repair is a little tricky. Any protocol I’ve seen calls for 4-6 weeks of non weight bearing with crutches with a repair. An arthroscopic meniscectomy can give you the ability to walk the next day but could still give you trouble in the future.

my recommendation is to find a good ortho doc that gives you options.
 

Brett Jones

StrongFirst Director of Education
Master Certified Instructor
Beast Tamer
Matt
I replied to your comment on the article.
"I had the meniscectomy (not the repair). Being an old tear and similar to yours (my tear had been caught/trapped under the medial meniscus).
I went 15 years between the injury and the surgery so you should work with your Dr. and make the best decision for your situation."
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
This is always a tough one, and a good reason to get multiple medical opinions. My story isn't mine but my youngest son's - suffered a contact ankle injury just before the start of his senior of high school, was a soccer player. What we thought was an excellent person to give an opinion, the team orthopedist for a professional local soccer team, said not to operate, but four years later, he was hobbling badly enough that the other foot/knee-ankle-hip was bothering him from compensating, so he finally got that second opinion, and he then had the surgery he probably should have had 4 years prior. Sad but he's realized his days of soccer and basketball are basically over because his ankle is never going to be the same again. Happy that he's found other ways to stay active, both other sports and strength training.

-S-
 
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