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Torn and Repaired Meniscus - thoughts/input - When can i climb again?!?


Original Post
atlam1 · · Denver, CO · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 0

I know Mt. Proj isn't really the best place for medical advice but after scrolling through the forums there hasn't been to much discussion on this particular injury so thought I'd get one started hopefully.

So I tore my left medial meniscus, no ACL/MCL/PCL damage so I'm lucky in that aspect. I had surgery 2 weeks ago to fully stitch and repair it, which was successful. I've started rehab and am still in a locked brace for at least 4 more weeks. So obviously no climbing for the next little bit but I was wondering who else has experienced this and when they started climbing again. The doc says no climbing for 6 months...but not sure if I can last that long without some climbing in my life. 

Anyways comments, thoughts, and suggestions are welcome 

Tony K · · Pa · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Yep no Climbing for 6 months you had a repair done much longer recovery You need the time for the repair to heal properly you should be fine if you follow your instructions and do not over push things trying to get back soon

if you only had a clean up of the meniscus you would be down for 4 to 6 weeks so having a repair done takes longer recovery time take it easy follow your instruction and you will be good as new don't follow instructions and you will be back in for surgery 

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 250

Meniscus repair in July of 2014. 2 months strictly nonweightbearing, another month of gradually putting the weight on and learning to walk.

 I was told by the doctor that I would be "back to normal" at 4 months. My PT said that it would be about a year before i was truly back to normal. The PT was correct.

The normal that the dr meant was for everyday activities, such as walking. I did start climbing (toproping only) at 4 months. And I was leading at 6 months, and sending within 2letter grades of my best red point. 

But I was not able to jump at that point yet, landing from even couple feet high was impossible, and i was guarding the knee and backing off many routes that had a move that I thought could reinjure me.

 I was doing PT for about 9 months. My personal goal was to be able to get back into doing a one-legged squat on the affected leg. Once I was able to do that, I was able to cautiously start bouldering again. At was a year before I felt that I was able to climb normally, without guarding my knee and thinking about it on every tricky move

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95

For me- right meniscus tear and repair February 2012. I wad foretunate to have a doctor and PT that were very athlete-oriented and were willing to push to get me back to activity reasonably quickly. The doctor said climbing at 4 months, 100% full strength at 1 year. This proved accurate.

My timing was as follows: Tear (high stepping on a route) in early February. Major tear, knee locked. Surgery 2 days later. Non weight bearing for 6 weeks. Limited walking and weight bearing began in late March. Walking improved through the spring, with lots of PT. Regaining range of motion was the main issue. 

Started climbing carefully in early June (4 months). Definitely no bouldering, and had to be careful with high steps, etc. Stuck to steep sport climbs with clean falls. Once I started climbing my knee's improvement really took off. The regular use strengthened it and increased the range of motion better than the PT. My climbing came back quickly too, and by mid-August I did my first 13b, my hardest route at that time. Dropping 8 pounds of leg muscle weight certainly helped. There were still certain moves, like aggressive high steps, tight knee bars, etc. that I had to avoid that summer.

I was able to start bouldering and running again that fall at around 8 months, but still had to be careful with those. 100% back to normal at 12 months. No issues since.

Note that I was 23 at the time of injury. Being young helped the recovery rate. Might take longer if you are older.

Scoop · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 45

Three meniscus surgeries. Do your PT. Ride your bike if it is pain free,  When you feel strong enough to climb, go slow and give it a go.  My experience is more like six weeks, at least for being back on skis. You may want to use a neoprene brace for a while.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95

Scoop mentioned bike. Bike was really good for PT and strengthening, and also just being able to do something. Was able to pedal a bike about 10 weeks post surgery.

atlam1 · · Denver, CO · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 0

Thanks everyone. Seems like there's no quick way out of this one but appreciate the feedback. I was told the bike would become my new best friend once the brace comes off. So something to look forward to in the short run. glad to know what's coming down the line  

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 250

Another yes for a bike. That was a big part of my PT once I was allowed to put some weight on the leg. And I can't stress enough the importance of good Therapist who understands athletes! The PT I was originally sent to was worthless. 

gtluke · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2012 · Points: 3
JCM wrote:

For me- right meniscus tear and repair February 2012. I wad foretunate to have a doctor and PT that were very athlete-oriented and were willing to push to get me back to activity reasonably quickly. The doctor said climbing at 4 months, 100% full strength at 1 year. This proved accurate.

My timing was as follows: Tear (high stepping on a route) in early February. Major tear, knee locked. Surgery 2 days later. Non weight bearing for 6 weeks. Limited walking and weight bearing began in late March. Walking improved through the spring, with lots of PT. Regaining range of motion was the main issue. 

Started climbing carefully in early June (4 months). Definitely no bouldering, and had to be careful with high steps, etc. Stuck to steep sport climbs with clean falls. Once I started climbing my knee's improvement really took off. The regular use strengthened it and increased the range of motion better than the PT. My climbing came back quickly too, and by mid-August I did my first 13b, my hardest route at that time. Dropping 8 pounds of leg muscle weight certainly helped. There were still certain moves, like aggressive high steps, tight knee bars, etc. that I had to avoid that summer.

I was able to start bouldering and running again that fall at around 8 months, but still had to be careful with those. 100% back to normal at 12 months. No issues since.

Note that I was 23 at the time of injury. Being young helped the recovery rate. Might take longer if you are older.

Just got my diagnosis yesterday and searched MP and was happy to see such a new thread.

I too tore mine climbing I think. Same thing, high right foot. but mine didn't lock, just made a lot of noise. Didn't have much pain for a few months but it would pop and feel like crap while climbing hard. Finally got an MRI and it's a complex tear of posterior medial meniscus.

laaame

these recovery times are scaring me. My appointment with the surgeon is on Tuesday where I"ll find out the actual bad news. If I can I'll postpone the surgery till November so I can just sit out the winter. 

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 250
gtluke wrote:

Just got my diagnosis yesterday and searched MP and was happy to see such a new thread.

I too tore mine climbing I think. Same thing, high right foot. but mine didn't lock, just made a lot of noise. Didn't have much pain for a few months but it would pop and feel like crap while climbing hard. Finally got an MRI and it's a complex tear of posterior medial meniscus.

laaame

these recovery times are scaring me. My appointment with the surgeon is on Tuesday where I"ll find out the actual bad news. If I can I'll postpone the surgery till November so I can just sit out the winter. 

If it's been a few months for you already, and there is little pain, the surgery is unlikely to be urgent, and you can likely postpone it. A lot of people opt not to have surgery for a meniscus at all... I certainly was considering that option-- but very happy that i went on with the surgery.

But while winter sounds tempting as a downtime, consider that it is much harder to put on long pants over the leg you can't bend, and it is much harder to hop on crutches when the ground is icy, and traveling over the holidays is not fun with crutches, either.

There is never a good time to have a surgery... Also, depending on the tear, and your age, they might not repair it, just trip the torn parts, or remove the meniscus completely. And in that case, you can be weight-bearing pretty much the day or two after surgery, and the recovery is quicker. (but longterm prognosis in terms of arthritis, etc is better for the repair)

gtluke · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2012 · Points: 3
Lena chita wrote:

If it's been a few months for you already, and there is little pain, the surgery is unlikely to be urgent, and you can likely postpone it. A lot of people opt not to have surgery for a meniscus at all... I certainly was considering that option-- but very happy that i went on with the surgery.

But while winter sounds tempting as a downtime, consider that it is much harder to put on long pants over the leg you can't bend, and it is much harder to hop on crutches when the ground is icy, and traveling over the holidays is not fun with crutches, either.

There is never a good time to have a surgery... Also, depending on the tear, and your age, they might not repair it, just trip the torn parts, or remove the meniscus completely. And in that case, you can be weight-bearing pretty much the day or two after surgery, and the recovery is quicker. (but longterm prognosis in terms of arthritis, etc is better for the repair)

Thanks

I'm 37, I should find out what my options are from the surgeon Tuesday. I presume it's going to be cutting out the torn parts. The long term arthritis thing is what I've read about. I hope in 10-20 years they'll have a better solution when I need it. Even today I know a couple people who recently had total knee replacement and were back in business with complete mobility in a few weeks. 

Oh, and you assume on an average day I actually bother to put on pants ;)

Miranda Serene · · Bishop, CA · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 5

My experience so far: I had the repair done and was told immediately that I could bear 50% of weight with the brace locked. I wasn't comfortable or strong enough to do this until about 2 weeks after surgery. I walked with the brace locked for 3-4 more weeks. There was lots of swelling and it was difficult to be up for long periods of time with the locked brace (couldn't really work for about 5 weeks). At 6 weeks, I got the okay from my surgeon to walk without the brace. It took me another 1-2 weeks to get comfortable with that. There was still lots of swelling when I was up for too long. I also got the okay to cycle at 6 weeks but didn't really feel strong enough to begin that until around week 7. Once I did begin to bike, my recovery began to really speed up. Biking helped with bending, straightening and all around strength in my atrophied leg. I am now at about 9 weeks and am walking around pretty normal without much pain or swelling. My PT has become much more involved and has included full weight and even small squats. I have been going on mini "hikes" that are about 2-3 miles long and then feel really tired after. In order to stay in shape I've been doing tons of pull-ups, push-ups, crunches, hang boarding, and some other stuff. The cycling has increased my emotional state tenfold. As far as pain goes, the surgery really wasn't too bad. Two years ago I had a plate and screws put into a broken ankle and compared to that, the knee pain has been a cake walk. My ortho said I should be able to climb again around 4 months. It's obviously a long process and not climbing is seriously hell but it seems like in the long run I'll be thankful for having my entire meniscus. I've also actually been able to stick to a training routine for once and I feel pretty strong in my upper body. It isn't fun to feel like you're falling behind but from previous injuries I've learned that keeping your mind right is key to healthy healing. Your body will appreciate the extra love.  If anyone has questions let me know.

gtluke · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2012 · Points: 3

Whoa, I had a totally different outcome to my meniscus surgery. My tear was really bad and the surgeon opted to stitch it up. They drilled a hole in my hip and extracted some bone marrow and spun it down to stem cells and injected it into my knee to aid the repair.

I could bear full weight that day but my knee was super stiff. I stayed in bed mostly for a day or two doing ice treatments and physical therapy started on day 3. 

I'm on day 16 now and I could run if I had to but I"m not supposed to.. I walk with a very slight limp still but I get around fine. Still taking it easy. If the PT doctor wasn't very strongly suggesting I not do anything active yet I'd be at the climbing gym and riding my mountain bike. The stitches are what made my recovery super long, I have to give that the maximum amount of time to heal as I can. 

Surgeon said that if he didn't stitch it and just removed it that I'd be done with PT by now and doing whatever I wanted. I am glad he stitched it though, I'll deal with the month of downtime now to put off getting arthritis. 

Miranda Serene · · Bishop, CA · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 5

So you only have 1 month of downtime after a repair? How old are you? I hadn't ever heard of the extracted bone marrow thing but that sounds awesome!

gtluke · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2012 · Points: 3
Miranda Serene wrote:

So you only have 1 month of downtime after a repair? How old are you? I hadn't ever heard of the extracted bone marrow thing but that sounds awesome!

38, maybe our procedures were different. I had "complex tear of posterior medial meniscus", no tendon damage.

Mine was all arthroscopic too, even the stitches they did with tiny robot finger, did they have to actually open you up? 

And yeah I never heard of the bone marrow stem cell thing either. But I made sure my surgeon did stem cell treatment before selecting him. I knew I wanted stem cells, I just didn't know that they got them from me during the procedure. Pretty wild.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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