/ Torn Meniscus: What can I expect?

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rexybo - on 07 Feb 2013
Hi All,

After seeing a sports doctor today I have been told that I probably have a bucket handle meniscus tear in my right knee and have been referred to an acute knee clinic for an MRI and a surgical consult. Apparently it is likely that I am going to need surgery as I cannot fully mobilise the joint and have lost the ability to torsion my leg without it locking up.

The reason I am posting this was in the hope of finding anyone who has had the same type of injury and to see how they fared when returning to climbing. I managed to hurt myself while doing a really deep drop knee, so it was a twisting force that did the damage rather than rocking over or heel hooking. The injury is a few weeks old now and the knee is still not able to cope with any form of loading when it is bent/ twisted.

I know a forum is not the place to ask for advice, but I would just like to hear if other climbers that have torn their meniscus (and had to have surgery) have made a full recovery?

Any input would be very gratefully received!
Chay - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to rexybo: Hi Sam,

I ruptured my ACL/PCL and tore my meniscus in an injury a couple of years ago...

All I can say is the recovery from the surgery is a slow process; the meniscus is a sort of horseshoe shape and doesn't get that much blood flow so healing takes a long time. Usually during surgery they will either cut away the damaged bits or they will fix it; whichever way they go will ease your discomfort, torn mensicus' can often lead to "locking" of the joint where the torn "end" gets trapped in the join (I had this).

Anyway, the brightside...I did all this with an ACL/PCL complete rupture so I had them fixed with a piece of my patella tendon. PCL going strong, ACL has gone again but due to good muscle structure holding every together I'm not going to have more surgery. Once the recovery is over you should be able to climb as normal, i cycle a lot, climb a lot and even get out to the Alps for long weeks of intense climbing and find it's ok.

My advice -DON'T RUSH IT, you'll only do more damage; let it recovery naturally, get yourself a bike or a membership to the local pool and get the muscle structure nice and developed to help your knee.

In my experience you'll be able to climb just fine given good recovery. Basically, don't be a smart arse and listen to the doctors and the physios.

Good luck!
suilven - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to rexybo:

I've torn my lateral meniscus 3 times on my left knee - twice largely because I rushed my comeback. Surgery will most likely be an arthroscopic procedure which leaves very little scaring but leaves your knee ballooned up with fluid for a while afterwards.

So I'll second the above advice - DO NOT RUSH IT!! Lots of low impact exercise to build up the big upper leg muscles will help a lot.

Since then I've managed to climb just as badly as ever, but the knee has never held me back (only my lack of skill and strength does that!). I even managed to run an ultra marathon up the WHW on it.

If you take it easy, be sensible in your recovery time and do the legwork then you should be ok.

Good luck!
Duncan Disorderly - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to suilven:

Had a partial meniscus tear about 4 or 5 years ago trimmed via arthroscopy and walked out of the hospital pretty much unaided. I was climbiing again after about a week I (I think - very easy routes tho) and running again after about 5 or 6 weeks. I've not had a single issue with it since..

Go easy tho and listen to your body, if it hurts then it's bad and stop... Pretty obvious really.

Good luck!

rmt on 07 Feb 2013 - whois?
In reply to rexybo: So I'm inbetween the three posts above. I had a partial meniscus tear, but one that was fixed by sewing it back together rather than cutting it out (arthroscopy as previously stated). I had the op about 15 month ago. Rehab was three months spent in a full leg brace if ever I was weight bearing on my leg, though I was able to get on an exercise bike after about 4 weeks. It took me a long time to get full mobility back in the knee (probably about a year), but I was mountain biking again after 4 months and climbing after around 5-6. I've had full recovery now and have not noticed any ill effects from the op whatsoever. At the time the three months in a knee brace felt like forever, but looking back on it it seemed to rush by. It's not all doom and gloom!
mikekeswick - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to rexybo: Don't worry!! It will be fine a torn meniscus isn't that big of a deal, just be very very glad you haven't done any ligament damage.
Have the arthroscopy , do the rehab and get your muscles as strong as possible. Once the strength is there it is vital to do lots of plyometric work. A slackline is truely awesome for getting back to full strength/mobility/confidence.
I ruptured my acl and torn the mensicus quite badly. Touching a large piece of wood I will say that my knee is now fine. I climb lots, fall off lots and am building upto running ultras.
You'll be fine
rexybo - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to everyone;

Thanks for all of the reassuring replies!

I promise I will be patient, do my physio and I will be getting a turbo trainer for my roadie this weekend (I have been advised against riding outside as I am only to cycle with low resistance).

Thanks again for replying to my post, your answers have made me feel a lot more positive about the whole thing, and that I still might get myself a decent summer in!


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