how to regain full use of knee (without surgery) after meniscus tear

Posted by rbon1 @rbon1, May 22, 2019

Hello: I am a 70 year young male in generally good health. 3 months ago while playing pickle ball (BTW a great game that I really enjoy), I made a twisting movement and my knee stiffened up on me. Long story short, a post injury MRI showed a complex degenerative tear involving body and posterior horn of the medial meniscus. No prior knee issues or surgery and all ligaments in knee are fine with only a little osteoarthritis. Following the injury I had 3 months of PT concentrating on strengthening quads and hips and trying to regain full ROM of knee. After 1.5 months, I reached a plateau from which I have been unable to make progress. No issue sleeping. I can walk just fine and even hike but when hiking downhill I favor the affected knee. Indoor cycling feels really good with no pain at all in my knee. When I use the knee in question, pain is quite minor (but I have been unable to resume pickle ball). Orthopedic surgeon (who does 20 knee surgeries every week) suggests meniscotomy to trim meniscus or suggests steroid injection. My internist advises not to rush to surgery and suggests I consider steroid injection with more PT. I am generally with him–reluctant to have elective surgery or to inject stuff into my knee. But I like the idea of more PT. Would love to hear about how anyone similarly situated dealt with this and about your results. Many thanks

Hello @rbon1, welcome to Connect. I'd like to invite @ew100, @randyvaughan, @ellerbracke, and @ees1 to this discussion as they have all discussed dealing with meniscus tears and how they have dealt with them via different treatments. It sounds like you and your internist are on the same page. Has your internist suggested working with your PT to potentially alter your routine to get over the plateau or what the potential plateau may be in relation to?

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Thank you Justin. I would very much welcome hearing from anyone who was in a similar situation and wishes to share their experiences/learning.

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@JustinMcClanahan

Hello @rbon1, welcome to Connect. I'd like to invite @ew100, @randyvaughan, @ellerbracke, and @ees1 to this discussion as they have all discussed dealing with meniscus tears and how they have dealt with them via different treatments. It sounds like you and your internist are on the same page. Has your internist suggested working with your PT to potentially alter your routine to get over the plateau or what the potential plateau may be in relation to?

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@JustinMcClanahan Justin and @rebon1 I think this is what's going on with my knee a meniscus tear had X-Ray on both knees @rbon1 was yours painful? mine is and stiff in morning

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Can’t speak to specifics re. meniscus tear. Had major knee problems, diagnosed as combination of meniscus tear, arthritis of tibia, some under kneecap, and assorted debris in knee. Did arthroscopic “clean-out”. PLEASE do not do this. I learned that arthroscopic surgery limited to soft tissue usually works quite well, once you get to cartilage, you might as well throw in the hat and look to stem cell treatment or knee replacement (both down the road, of course, depending on how bad things are). Wish I would have had a better grasp of things when my knee troubles started. I ended up with unsuccessful arthro surgery of knee, followed by TKR 11 months (and lots of pain, exercises, shots, frustration) later. OK now 8 months post TKR. Try to avoid, though. Not your own knee, no matter how good the quality of the metal one is.

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@ellerbracke This is timely for me as my one has been hurting me for weeks ,had x,Ray's waiting for results

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@ellerbracke

Can’t speak to specifics re. meniscus tear. Had major knee problems, diagnosed as combination of meniscus tear, arthritis of tibia, some under kneecap, and assorted debris in knee. Did arthroscopic “clean-out”. PLEASE do not do this. I learned that arthroscopic surgery limited to soft tissue usually works quite well, once you get to cartilage, you might as well throw in the hat and look to stem cell treatment or knee replacement (both down the road, of course, depending on how bad things are). Wish I would have had a better grasp of things when my knee troubles started. I ended up with unsuccessful arthro surgery of knee, followed by TKR 11 months (and lots of pain, exercises, shots, frustration) later. OK now 8 months post TKR. Try to avoid, though. Not your own knee, no matter how good the quality of the metal one is.

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Thank you so much for your response. It is indeed challenging for a senior person with a new knee injury to make the "right" treatment decision.

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@rbon1 : I wanted to add one more comment. My brother also had a meniscus tear and some inflammation on the bones in his knee. TKR was brought up, he declined. Went to work with a physical therapist who specializes in sports injuries, and added acupuncture sessions with a practitioner of traditional chinese medicine. I took 6 months of treatments and exercises, but now his knee is perfectly fine (confirmed by X-rays and MRI).

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Thank you so much for sharing your experience and that of your brother.

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@ellerbracke

@rbon1 : I wanted to add one more comment. My brother also had a meniscus tear and some inflammation on the bones in his knee. TKR was brought up, he declined. Went to work with a physical therapist who specializes in sports injuries, and added acupuncture sessions with a practitioner of traditional chinese medicine. I took 6 months of treatments and exercises, but now his knee is perfectly fine (confirmed by X-rays and MRI).

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@ellerbracke Thanks for information on your brother I think I'm going to look into this Turned out xray showed just arthritis but pain goes down leg also

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@lioness

@ellerbracke Thanks for information on your brother I think I'm going to look into this Turned out xray showed just arthritis but pain goes down leg also

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@lioness “just” arthritis can be pretty limiting, depending on your lifestyle. I was not (yet) bone on bone, but I had to 1-step every time I faced stairs, and it hurt every time I walked for exercise, or got up out of a chair, or a car, and the tipping point for me was when I went on a very gently hike with one of my grandsons and his family and simply could not handle a slight downhill without hanging on to shrubs, trees, someone’s arm…….or I would have to have backed down the trail. That was after the arthroscopic surgery, and before I heard about stem cells. So TKR it was.
Regarding my brother, contrary to what I expected (he lives in a small city in Austria), there is a whole lot of un-traditional, experimental, holistic treatments available there, much more readily than in my adopted home (40 yrs. +) in SC. Not sure where you are located, but perhaps you also have more options, or at least, you know to ask about alternatives, which I did not (and you may already know anyway without my 2 cents.)

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@ellerbracke

@lioness “just” arthritis can be pretty limiting, depending on your lifestyle. I was not (yet) bone on bone, but I had to 1-step every time I faced stairs, and it hurt every time I walked for exercise, or got up out of a chair, or a car, and the tipping point for me was when I went on a very gently hike with one of my grandsons and his family and simply could not handle a slight downhill without hanging on to shrubs, trees, someone’s arm…….or I would have to have backed down the trail. That was after the arthroscopic surgery, and before I heard about stem cells. So TKR it was.
Regarding my brother, contrary to what I expected (he lives in a small city in Austria), there is a whole lot of un-traditional, experimental, holistic treatments available there, much more readily than in my adopted home (40 yrs. +) in SC. Not sure where you are located, but perhaps you also have more options, or at least, you know to ask about alternatives, which I did not (and you may already know anyway without my 2 cents.)

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@ellerbracke I live in Cali. But have studied holistic since the 70,s A gentleman here is 93 still working as a crossing guard he had what I have he just won't let physical things get him down He pushes against weight 10 lps I am starting to do same at 1lb but hurts just moving it .Dr. recommended a shot don't want to do that if I can help it At 77 I exercise everyday

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Hi @rbon1 and welcome to Connect. I had two meniscus surgeries, quite a while ago. Since then I have read that they are not done nearly as frequently, that PT can very often solve the problem better than surgery can. I presume there are still times when surgery is the best option, but back when I had my two they were very common.
I would tend to agree with you, more PT could help. I would not rule out an injection though, that can help also. If at any point in time you do consider surgery I would definitely seek a second opinion.
Good luck with this, I hope you find a satisfactory resolution. Please let us know how you are doing.
JK

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