Wondering what you should do about your torn meniscus? Are you considering surgery? Will it heal? I don’t know what’s right for your knee, but I can share with you what I learned.
I tore my meniscus about 10 months ago. I was in Judo class and a guy (big white belt) jumped guard on my extended knee and hyper extended it. You’re not supposed to do that in Judo. That’s only in jiujitsu.
It hurt and I knew something was wrong as my leg was shaking from the trauma and I didn’t get off the mat for 30 minutes or so. I went and got an MRI and they told me I had a torn meniscus and a bone bruise.
They told me I had an oblique tear or a bucket handle tear on my medial meniscus. Walking was painful.
The doctor said he could do surgery to fix it. Fixing it meant he was either going to cut it out (meniscectomy) – the torn piece or stitch it. When I heard that my face dropped.
He said you could wait a bit to see of it healed. That was around 2 weeks after.
I waited another 2 weeks and it didn’t really seem to change much, saw him again and he said the same, surgery or wait and see if it heals.
All the mean while I did some research.
All the results I found on surgery suggested that I not do it. That’s what I gathered. I mean your situation might be different. But most studies out there didn’t show a big improvement with surgery and in some cases they made it worse. More on those studies later.
If you ask a surgeon what should I do with my hurt knee? He is probably going to say “let’s operate”.
Some information suggested surgery based on the degree of the tear. If you had popping in the joint or it’s getting stuck (locking) then that’s probably more severe and might need it.
They say if you had a tear on the edge of the meniscus it is more likely to heal since there is a blood supply. Towards the center of the knee there is no blood supply. They will tell you that cartilage can’t heal there. However…
There are white blood cells in synovial fluid. They don’t tell you that. Later I’ll point out some studies that may oppose that.
I didn’t really have those symptoms. I had pain though with standing and stiffness.
Here is what I did.
- I fasted. In fact I fasted for 81 hours. Like animals do when injured I fasted. There are some studies out there that say that fasting for 2-5 days increases stem cell growth. Other studies suggest that fasting for short periods can increase human growth hormone.
- I kept up with my normal routine – minus the grappling. I did yoga and a lot of balancing poses for strength. I started doing one legged squats too.
- I did ice initially, some say icing is good and others say it is not. Though both usually say that compression is good.
- I got ankle weights and I started this passive exercise to rehab the knee. I still do this and highly recommend it. I committed to doing this daily for at least a year. My other knee also has benefited from this. Studies show that passive exercise CPM can rehab articular cartilage. This exercise is similar.
- Foam rolling to massage my legs.
That’s what I did. I had pain for a good 2 months plus.
How do I feel now?
I feel pretty good. I am back to all normal activities and feel mostly normal. I returned to grappling a little more than 2 months later. I occasionally get some muscular pain on the back inside of my knee. Massage helps that. I get a little bit of stiffness in it after sitting cross legged forward folding in yoga.
I think that is mostly muscular. Massage is great and in my experience joint pain is often caused by surrounding muscles.
Doctor and other people said a bone bruise could take up to a year or so to heal.
Your situation is unique. I would not try to “fix” your problem by having a surgeon cut you open unless you’re confident and your situation is severe. When I asked the surgeon if my tear was large he said probably small to medium. He didn’t know if it was in the “red zone” or not.
Wait. It can take a while to heal. I read online that some people said it can take 6 months or more than a year. The doctor told me if it’s not better in 2 months then it might not heal.
You can always get surgery later, but you can’t change what’s been done later.
Do that passive motion exercise with ankle weights unless it hurts. If it hurts then stop and do it without weights. Also you can lie on your back and do a bicycle exercise where you pretend to ride a bicycle. This is also similar to the CPM exercises.
Compress it. Wrap it with an ace bandage.
Massage the muscles around it.
Be disciplined about exercise but don’t overdo it or hurt yourself more. Do what you can stuff like balancing exercises, one legged squats, wall squats, leg lifts/raises, get a isometric band, etc.
More info on surgery