Meniscus repair recovery

So I am scheduled for lateral meniscus surgery in March and early indications show that there is decent likelihood that my meniscus can be repaired rather than removed (it’s in the red zone).
What are your experiences with a similar surgery and recovery and getting back to training?
I am in SBT GRVL BLK, but thinking that’s not happening this year.
Thanks in advance!

For reference, I was 47 when I got my had a partial meniscectomy & chondromalatia taken care of. The good news -I could spin easy a few days after the surgery. I had a rough year following the surgery & never got really fit. I had a bad concussion 5 months after surgery as I was finally starting to gain better fitness & that was a big set back. Work stress didn’t help, either. I never really hit my stride training last year & ended up taking a few weeks totally of the bike. Since I’ve begun to ease myself back in over the past few weeks, I feel like my knee is back to 100%. It took about a year for me to get to this point. YMMV, of course!

1 Like

I got a good chunk of mines removed, mines had torn and folded in.

I walked out of hospital after operation, and was back playing soccer 17 days later.

They gave me loads of painkillers at the hospital to take for a few days but I never needed any.

Hopefully you’ll recover as quick.

The knee they operated on is the better of my two now :rofl:

Good buddy of mine had his meniscus “cleaned up” in 2018…procedure was in Feb and he was with us for a cycling weekend in May, although not in top form.

When you say “repaired” are you talking about being non-weight bearing for 6-8 weeks post-op?

At this point it is unclear if it will be a menisectomy (weight bearing immediately) or a stitch up repair (3+ weeks non weight bearing). Planning for the worst case recovery, but also hoping to hear about other cyclists’ success after the repair.

Sounds like a pretty good outcome. Hoping for a recovery like that!

1 Like

I’ve had 3 meniscectomies. The first was also a triad (ACL, MCL, meniscus) injury so not relevant here.
None of mine have been repaired, partial removals only.
Second was on that same knee with a complex bucket handle tear. Doc’s quote, “You didn’t leave me much to work with, call it 5-10% left, but basically you got nothing”
I was running 90% within two weeks. I’m convinced that if I was a pro athlete I would have been playing 10 days post-op. I was 28 at the time
When I was 48 I had a large bucket handle tear in the other knee. That one took 6 months to running 90% and a year for 100%. Walking was just OK at 2 weeks and not smooth until about 3 months
I think age is a big factor.

Thanks. I am 28 like you were in your second repair. It really sounds like recovery can be quick with the removal.
How are your knees 20 years later? That’s my biggest concern, but likely cycling is relatively kind to knee cartilage.

OK, so worst case scenario, you lose March and are back on the bike in April, starting easy and rebuilding fitness.

I see no reason you can’t be ready for SBT GRVL in August. Hell, even if you lose April too, I would think you still have time to be on the start line in SBT.

That is my hope!! :crossed_fingers:

1 Like

Yeah…. A long lead up to it right enough.

I had been to 3 different physiotherapists who all thought it was LCL and maybe CL damage over the course of a year and was getting nowhere.

Eventually I seen a knee specialist (Prof Gordon McKay), and he diagnosed it in 30 seconds.

One thing that might have helped me was I had done lots of leg strengthening exercises with all the physio’s.

1 Like

I’ll see you out there! :facepunch::facepunch::facepunch:

1 Like

Well, I’m 28 years post that second surgery (1st two were in 7 months) , 8 past the third.
I still run, not a lot. 300-500 miles a year. Have never run a marathon. Run a few 5k, 10k and half marathons most years. 2017 I did 5 half’s. I am in hobby jogger range at ~2:20 for most of them.
I need no extra PT type work done. Ice occasionally after bigger ones. Occasional pain in both knees, but not bad.
Compared to most I’ve known with knee issues I am much better off.

If you 're age 28 (depending on the severity of the tear they can potentially repair rather than cut away). however when you get mid 30s and above they are partially cutting away most likely because blood flow to the area is becoming more limited. Being young is helpful, We got good surgeries. No matter, you will be back and don’t fret over it. look at it like lube job for the knee.

1 Like

Unfortunately I fell into this category. I had my knee scoped in December, meniscus tear was border line and they thought maybe they could repair but ended up just having to cut away.

Like others, I could “walk” out of surgery center, didn’t need prescription painkillers, and could spin easily in a week. Probably could have earlier but was trying to rest as prescribed.

Overall though my n=1 experience was much worse than I had hoped it would be. While not bad, the actual procedure recovery was worse than I had told myself it would be but the real kicker is I developed DVT (blood clots) as a complication. That was very painful initially and now I’m on blood thinners for 3 months which come with their own restrictions.

DVT is an uncommon side effect so of course it’s unlikely the same will happen to you, but I personally question whether the eventual relief will be worth it. Before riding wasn’t painful and it was mostly running that bothered me. I’ve only been able to do 1-2 short runs and it feels about the same. YMMV.

2 Likes

I’m an aging vet of meniscectomy many years ago, dont think they had options for “repair” as they do today. I suspect that the meniscus is protective against future articular cartilage injury, wear and tear, and joint failure in future years. If it were me and I had a chance for “repair” even with longer rehab time - I would take it as an investment on a long term healthier knee. I would not look at the shorter recovery as a reason to choose meniscectomy if repair is an option.

4 Likes

I will just add my experience here as I have had 5 meniscus surgeries across both knees as well as a few scope procedures for clean up of debris. I think things may have changed some in the medical community, but these used to be pretty common for athletes, and getting back to activity very quickly was common. I am not sure that this leads to the best long term outcomes, and my experience seems to support this.

I became somewhat cavalier in my approach to recovery based on successful experience with these procedures and would be riding/skiing/climbing fairly hard within a very short period of time. My last procedure which was a couple of years ago now was an altogether different experience. Surgery was performed by a Sports Medicine facility, and within a week my follow up suggested that my recovery was in the top 2% of possible outcomes. Like an idiot I took this to be the all clear and started to put the hammer down and increased both the duration and intensity of my rides. Within a short period of time I was experiencing severe pain and an MRI confirmed significant Bone Marrow Edema, which was not evident in images taken post surgery. I needed to follow a strict recovery, and spent several months in a custom brace until the symptoms slowly receded and an MRI showed clear results. I believe I brought this on by my failure to pay attention to recovery, and in fairness there is some luck involved as I had gotten away with this behavior previously…just something to consider.

2 Likes

Most docs will limit range of motion to 90 degrees flexion for the first 6 weeks. that would keep you off the bike (you need about 105-110). Some have you non weight bearing for a period, others weight bearing as tolerated. Start PT as soon as they will let you. There’s a lot you can work on in that 6 weeks - getting full extension, core strengthening, glute/quad/hamstring/calf strengthening. One thing to consider (if you’re in the US) - a lot of insurance companies will cover a stem cell procedure if it’s done during surgery. That can help speed up the healing process, so ask your doc if that’s an option. Repairs are a pain up front, but the long term outcome is much better. I had it done on my right; repair was very close to a sensory nerve, so I had some intense nerve pain for a bit (I can now empathize with my patients who have nerve pain), and we had to go back in to trim a piece that had broken loose, but I’ve been very pleased with it long term - no problems riding or running. The left knee is a completely different story…

Thanks. The idea of PRP/stem cell for healing is really interesting, especially knowing that the meniscus has poor bloodflow and a hard time healing – something I am going to inquire about.
I think I am secretly excited to be able to have dedicated time to strength training during the recovery. When I have had past injuries it is pretty amazing how sometimes you can come back stronger.

I am definitely someone that will have a hard time not laying down the hammer with training early. Thanks for sharing your experience!