Looking for the up side! First Surgery

So last year was my first go at trainerroad. Loved it, but got sidelined by medial pain in my right knee… did 3 or 4 months of PT and got back to riding last fall. Got all of my bikes fit as well, and did all of that fun stuff. Started trainerroad again this year to get my power back, and it was going great!.. until the same pain in the same knee reared it’s ugly head. It’s tough when your mind is in the right place to work, but your body won’t let you stay in the hurt locker!

Long story short I just got diagnosed with plica syndrome, and am having my plica removed on 6/10. I’m excited to have a path forward, but also just bummed that the same issue is impacting another year of riding.

I was given an expected recovery of 2-6 weeks for normal activity… and 4 months for cycling?! Does that sound right do y’all?

My “Surgery Recovery Goals”
-Do all of the PT work prescribed
-Build core and upper body strength with my gymnastics rings and other at home workouts.
-lose this injury/covid weight (not gonna lie, been having a few too many brewskis since my knee acted up again. lol)

Anyhow a lot of this is just rambling, but i’m looking for a light at the end of the tunnel! Any feedback would be appreciated.

First, good luck!

I’ve had my fair share of surgeries, including knee and hip surgery (which ultimately brought me into cycling) so I feel your pain.

Before my surgeries, I always worried about how much time I would be away from the gym post-op. In reality though, it’s totally worth the short time off to be able to come back and ride pain free for the long-term, especially when you have probably been modifying workouts and compromising rides due to pain.

As far as your recovery timeline, 2-6 weeks until normal activities seems normal. The worst part about knee surgery is the swelling, so the more you can keep it elevated in the beginning, the better!

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I’ve lost count of all the surgeries I’ve had. Some were major near death type which left me too weak to lift myself in bed. My first major illness and surgery resulted in nearly 100 pounds of muscle loss (not an exaggeration). I had to start off walking a few feet at a time, and then slowly build myself back up again.

Follow the advice of your doctors and don’t try to do too much too soon. You’ll see slow progress at first, but then once you’re somewhat healthy and strong again, your improvement will start to ramp very quickly. After a lot of these cases, I’ve broken past old plateaus and even though the recovery took a long time, I was stronger than ever. This has proven true both in cycling and weight lifting.

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Hi Kevin,

To start with, good luck and hang in there!

FWIW, since 2000, I’ve had 10 surgeries, mostly major and none without issue. That said, if you’ve gotten to this step, you need to do it even though you may not want to do it.

For a couple, I would go to the gym pre-surgery and get a workout in on he way to the hospital as I wasn’t sure when the next workout was, but knew there’d be one.

That is what you need to keep in mind - there will be a next workout. May be a while and it probably won’t be the best ever - but it’ll happen.

This may be hard to believe, but this will help you - from a mental standpoint, you’ll come out stronger and when you have a tough workout or race, think back to right after your surgery or you getting home and wanting to do a workout and not able to - it’ll keep you moving forward. May not give you an extra 5 watts to FTP, but it’ll help.

Be willing and able to laugh - I was in the hospital back in early 2020 after a rough time in ICU and a riding buddy of mine had heard about my stay (30 days or so at that point) and visited me. I’d already have family see me and some other friends, all looked at me and were sad - Scott though, he was so excited. He said, “Man - you lucky guy! How much weight have you lost? 20 lbs at least. You’re going to kill everyone when you get out there!” He could tell I couldn’t get up, but he spun that into something funny and bike related and after 20 years, I still remember it vividly. Keep stuff like that and just be willing to laugh even though you’re laughing at yourself.

Hang in there, be patient. Do everything your doc AND PT says to do. Make sure you understand what they are saying to do and if you don’t agree - speak up! If you want to do more, mention it but try to not overdue things, it’ll be sooo tempting, but don’t. Think of your recovery as a training plan - plan the work - work the plan. Stay the course and you’ll get back out there!

Again, good luck!
-Chris

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Thanks for the feedback guys! Reading those stories really made me feel better about this whole thing. It sounds like i need to shift my mindset from “when will i be able to work out on the bike again?!” to… “I will be able to work out on the bike again!”.

I’ve been falling victim to being too close to my own problem. It’s hard to see how simple it is from the outside. The whole process of identifying the issue with my knee has been more of a journey than i would have liked… a journey that i hope is done!

I keep overthinking about how much not being able to ride during this pandemic sucks, lol. I just see people on their bikes EVERYWHERE. Anyhow, I just need to focus on things i can control I guess.

Kevin, you jut have to hang in there and be patient. Also, careful with Google - everyone is a bit different and just because username 1234 said they hopped off the surgery bed and rode 100 miles, doesn’t mean you will. But if you work with your medical team, you’ll get back out there.

One thing I did that helped me - I would come up with simple things to do. I had broken a few vertebrae (me being stupid) and when I was released, I asked my doc - what can I do? He said I could walk as much as I wanted. So I did - 10-12 miles a day. Picture a guy in a neck brace walking around neighborhoods - yeah, looked weird but just getting out and doing something helped. Eventually I could ride my bike on a trainer and pedal easy. It’ll come back. :slight_smile: Don’t focus on what you lost, focus on what you’re getting - less pain so you’ll be able to ride more or longer. More mental strength - you got thru the surgery and recovery and when you’re out ridding with others, look around - how many of them can make it thru that? You did!

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Plica surgeries are questionable at best. Did you get a second opinion? All surgery is a risk and despite many bragging about how many surgeries they’ve had doesn’t prognosticate your outcome And personal risk level. Be an educated healthcare consumer and triple check that your homework is done.

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this…plica surgery has all but been abandoned

I had a slap tear from a repetition injury in my right shoulder. I have a triathlon background but I was never a good swimmer. I thought my surf and swimming life was over but I recovered fast and well and last year I swam a sub 6 minutes 400m for the first time in my life. Modern medicine can do things that 30 years ago would be considered miracles.

So… have faith and endure. A lot of us have been where you are and became better and faster afterwards.

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Well now I’m all nervous! This is the second doctor that I’ve been to that came to the same conclusion on my knee.

Seemed to me based off of googling around and whatnot that plica surgeries are fairly common and successful with cyclists?

Good luck with the op. Everything cnigro has mentioned.
I too have had THR, and unicompartmental knee surgery.
Both recovered much more quickly than a non athlete.
The worst thing for it is to get distracted and start wandering around, or standing up talking, or on the phone etc. It will swell. Do your excersises and straight away put your leg up , keep it cool and elevated.
Make a program for your recovery (like you do for training), and be disciplined about sticking to it.
Listen to the TR Podcasts (if you haven’t already!
The other thing that takes a while is to get enough flexion in the knee to pedal your bike, and that is why they say it takes time. But if you see a good sports physio for your rehab, he/she will help you with that.
Best start on the trainer, and you could raise your saddle a tad, and put shorter cranks on your bike, which will reduce the angles of flexion.

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UPDATE! Got to go on my first ride 29 days post operation. I’ve been just going on fun rides for a couple weeks now. The clicking in my knee is gone, and I could not have asked for a more reasonable recovery! I took the time during recovery to focus on things non biking related… i.e. kayaking and fishing. I suck at the latter, but hey… it’s a good time!

Thanks to everyone for the words of wisdom during my time of stress and overthinking. The one thing i was able to keep up the whole time during my recovery was my appetite… so now i need to work on loosing a few lbs :rofl:… but getting back on the bike helps with that :slight_smile:

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