What was your experience with a torn meniscus?
July 16, 2009 6:35 PM   Subscribe

So my husband tore his meniscus months ago. Finally got an MRI confirming it and we're wondering what people who've had a meniscus repair can tell us about their experiences with surgery and rehab.

He tore it playing soccer but luckily did NOT damage his MCL or ACL. We've known lots of people who've gone through the not-fun of an ACL repair and are hoping that dealing with just the meniscus will be a less lengthy, less painful rehab. He doesn't plan to go back to soccer but hopes to be able to run and hike again. Don't know yet whether he'll be getting a repair or (partial) removal so would appreciate hearing about your experiences with either. If you know a great knee guy in Ann Arbor that would be great too!
posted by leslies to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Partial removal here. I tore my medial meniscus about 6 years ago, had it snipped arthroscopically, was in rehab for a few months, then nothing. It's like it never happened. Very heavy barbell squats, running upstairs, tons of "spinning" & bike riding, whatever. I've never had the slightest bit of trouble with it to date. But - I'm not a real athlete.

Surgery was surgery - I was out the same day. My leg and knee hurt, so I really babied the thing. I spent a few days on crutches, and I iced it for a week. I think I did rehab for 3 months (?). Looking back and knowing what I know now, I'm not sure I would go so slow with it if I had to do it over again. As far I can I can tell in hindsight, the only thing the rehab was for was building back up the leg that had atrophied from my favoring it when it was hurt, and from the post-op immobilization. The rehab consisted mostly of simple muscle-building exercises - standing just on that leg and crouching to touch something on the ground, etc. Plus I got a lot of "stim" - electrical stimulation through a pad wrapped around the knee/quad. I liked that because it involved a lot of magazine-reading.

I hate to set your expectation level, though - I'm sure it completely depends on how bad your husband's actual tear is. I was 37 when it happened, I'm 43 now. I had mine done in Chicago - if that's within your search zone, drop me a mefi mail & I'll give you his details. A big name around here, he did a fantastic job. A real pro who does them all the time.
posted by facetious at 6:52 PM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I tore the meniscus in my left knee a few years ago, playing road hockey . The surgeon told me that during the procedure he would check the severity of the damage, and decide whether he would remove or repair the tissue.

He wound up just removing the torn parts.

My recovery was quick, I didn't really need crutches for more than a few days. I didn't do as much rehab as I should have, I got kind of busy at work.

Since then surgery I have done:
-Light weight training
-Extreme Bootcamp
-trained for and completed a half-marathon

The only time my left knee felt sore was after the half-marathon; but then again my entire *body* was also sore after that one!

I'm 43 now and was 41 when I tore my meniscus.
posted by shino-boy at 6:59 PM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Tore mine in two places a few years back when I was 28. Had part removed arthroscopically. I was on crutches one day, then was told to walk around on it the second day. There was no need for rehab.

There was some pretty good pain for about a day, the pain pills worked fine, then it was just stiff. It was pretty much back to normal in a week or so, but it was about a month before I really "trusted" it in strenuous activity.
posted by sanka at 7:53 PM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you get it repaired it's a much longer rehab, more like 6 months to a year to full use. But you have a lower chance of arthritis so it's worth it for a lot of people.
posted by fshgrl at 7:58 PM on July 16, 2009

I tore my ACL and I run (within reason) and hike. football (soccer).. no. I have no trust right now in my knee after two and a half years for lateral movement.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:02 PM on July 16, 2009

My doctor advised me to get it removed NOT repaired for the reason fshgrl sites.

Much longer rehab for repair.

Got torn section cut out under local...was on a plane flying home 3 days later (long story).
posted by UMDirector at 8:35 PM on July 16, 2009

I tore my ACL playing hopscotch under the influence of red wine about 20 years ago, left it untreated because it never seemed to be the right time to go through surgery and rehab, which at that time was quite an ordeal. The knee was occasionally unstable during plant-and-twist exertion, and in 2001 I reinjured it, resulting in a bucket-strap tear of the meniscus. The knee started to "go out" with increasing frequency, usually due to crawling on a soft surface. The joint would lock up, and I would be unable to straighten it until someone pulled on my lower leg in just the right way. That was increasingly not OK, so I had arthroscopic surgery in 2005 to remove the section of meniscus that was flapping loose and getting stuck in the joint. The surgery was a breeze, I was walking on it the next day. I'm no athlete, but I hike, dance, do yoga and moderate weight training. Very occasionally I get a little wobble in the knee, but it actually seems more stable than before the meniscus tear.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:45 PM on July 16, 2009

Ripped mine down the center when I was 17 breakdancing. Totally idiotic. I had reconstructive arthroscopic repair from the head of orthopedic surgery at NYU, and it was awesome. I recovered in 2 months completely with little rehab.

Now, at the age of 25, the only way I can tell which knee was injured is from the plus sign scars on my knee. If you're older, the recovery might suck more, but from what I understand, the meniscus gets good blood flow vs the acl, and heals much better. I'd totally do it, it could add a lot of time to your knee.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 10:01 PM on July 16, 2009

I tore my meniscus and damaged a ligament playing tennis. Sore & 'clicky' for a few months then went to get it cleaned up, arthroscopy under general anaesthetic. Immediately afterwards, it was tender but not unbearable, and I was walking (with a crutch) a few hours later. I think I needed a crutch for about 4 weeks - possibly slightly longer.

Following the op, my muscle tone went, just turned to jelly above the knee. A few months physio and lots of leg lifting sorted that out. I wouldn't skimp on this - the muscles provide a lot of support and stability to the knee.

Physically, its fine now. Mentally, though - its at the back of my mind, always. I wouldn't ski, wouldn't run any great distance on a hard surface and wouldn't play soccer or rugby. I do play tennis but I don't chase for shots any more, and I'm much more aware of the surface I play on. Cycling, rowing, hiking, all fine though.

Thinking about knees still makes me fell slightly queasy. Frankly, I'm amazed that we're not always buckling them. Ankles too.
posted by paulash at 11:07 PM on July 16, 2009

I had a partial tear of my medial meniscus, along with tearing my ACL playing soccer two years ago. After discussing options with a few surgeons, I decided on a cadaver allograft ACL repair along with an inside to out arthroscopic meniscus repair.

The meniscus repair kept me on crutches for 4 weeks after the surgery, which was very trying. For the first few weeks I couldn't stand long enough throughout the day to cook myself meals, so I was very reliant on others and delivery for food.

After 3-4 months of rehab when I began resuming light athletic activities like jogging, I found during the exercise my meniscus repair was "sore", and this soreness persisted after the workout for 24-48 hours depending on the duration and intensity of the workout. I discussed this with my physician and he said it was likely scar tissue from the repair on the outer edge of the joint capsule, and would degrade over time. After 8-12 months, the pain during exercise faded to where I no longer notice it.
posted by zentrification at 1:38 AM on July 17, 2009

Thanks everyone - this is very helpful. Sounds like most people who had a removal didn't end up with a much weaker knee. He's older than any of you were at the time of injury but I'm hoping that won't be a huge factor and that he'll be back to hiking and running in a reasonable time-frame.
posted by leslies at 5:33 AM on July 17, 2009

I got the torn part of mine removed. One thing that I did not see above is DO NOT RUSH your rehab. I was in the police academy and they gave me 3 months after my surgery to pass a 1 1/2 mile run in under 12 minutes or else I would have to pay and take the whole thing 17 weeks over again. I rushed through rehab and didn't give my muscles time to bounce back. I ended up tearing my hamstring while doing the run. :( Lesson here, take your time healing it. 2-3 months at least.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:15 AM on July 17, 2009

As usual, it all depends. What does the doctor say?

I tore my exterior meniscus and had the tear snipped off. Crutches home and for 1-2 two days, limped for a week, then started riding a stationary bike with no problems. Forewent the physical therapy when the doc (and the therapists) saw that there was no issue.

I have slight pains 12 years down the road under certain conditions (I think I know when it's going to rain). Possibly related, possibly because I'm getting older. Who knows? I'd do it again, as the alternate was a possibility of severe pain (experienced once that that was enough).
posted by Man with Lantern at 7:57 AM on July 17, 2009

He will have arthroscopic surgery in a month or so - has been told he'll be on crutches for a week and do PT for about a month. Minor tear w/no signs of arthritis - not bad for an athletic 52 year old! Thanks for all your help - he's going forward feeling reassured and given his insane schedule it's very good to know it won't be a real long haul afterwords.
posted by leslies at 10:14 AM on September 11, 2009

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