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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 7, 2006
    Location
    The not-so-frozen North
    Posts
    1,667

    Post MCL/meniscus injuries...

    About a week and a half ago my darling horse and I separated ways and I did a neat dismount that had me landing entirely on my left knee. Oops...

    Fast forward to today and I've learned I have a torn MCL (grade II apparently) and a torn medial meniscus - Dr didn't really elaborate on how badly.

    I am completely bummed out. Of course, the horse was going beautifully and we were happily gearing up to start the summer horse shows in two weeks.

    The treatment plan is conservative, which appears to be pretty common for this type of injury, and I start physical therapy tomorrow.

    Has anyone experience an injury similar to this? How long did it take until you could ride again? I asked my doctor (sport med guy) and he didn't look seem amused by my question. I got a very severe "you have a serious injury to your knee! You shouldn't be worried about how quickly you can damage it again!" Sigh... one of these days I'm going to get a doctor that rides, and therefore understands. Til then... maybe the horse people can give me a basic idea.

    Also, I don't know if anyone knows this or not, but what happens if I *do* ride on it as it is now? Would I hurt it worse or would it be fine? I don't think I'd really want to at the moment - still hurts a lot - but obviously they want me to exercise the damn thing through PT, so I just wonder what the difference is.
    Last edited by Across Sicily; Apr. 30, 2011 at 05:50 PM.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug. 3, 2004
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    3,823

    Default looking back across 50 years in the saddle

    I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get back on. I would have more years to look forward to in the future.

    Treat yourself as well as you would treat your horse.

    If your horse were lame, would you ride him anyway???
    A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov. 23, 2010
    Posts
    72

    Default

    I had knee problems for a long time and eventually had surgery. My Ortho surgeon also had horses and understood the problems I was having with my knee and my need to get back to riding. During my surgery, he removed my plica band and lots of debris from a torn meniscus. They didn't do anything to my meniscus other than remove the debris because it was an old injury that I dealt with (the only reason I finally had surgery was because my knee was catching when I posted, ran, went up stairs, etc. It was from that floating debris that would get caught in the joint space every now and then).

    I was back to riding about 2 months later... and then took a lesson on a horse who liked to buck at the canter (no one told me this before) and came off, landing right on that knee. Took another 2 weeks off and have been fine since.

    Sorry-- that was a little longer than I expected.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr. 13, 2008
    Posts
    109

    Default

    Across Sicily - Sorry that you're dealing with this injury. I had the same injury last May. I ended up with my leg between my horse's hind legs and attempted to minimize the potential damage that could have occurred. I still have a bruise on the inside of my right calf.

    The doctor told me that the MCL would heal by itself and that I had the option to see whether the menicus would heal by itself or opt for the surgery to remove the debris. I chose the surgery because of the weakness I was experiencing and I didn't want to wait 3 months to find out that I needed the surgery.

    The addicent occurred May 2 and I was back to really riding June 7th. That was two weeks from the surgery. I really worked with my PT as soon as I was released for PT. I did wear a knee brace for about two weeks just to help stabilize the knee.

    Best of luck to you.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep. 16, 2008
    Location
    Lexington Ky
    Posts
    325

    Default

    Hi
    I hurt my knee this spring...1st dx was a sprained mcl....I rode a week later...it hurt. Got it mri'd~ the rad said it was a sprained mcl/acl amd menscus tear with bucket flap (apparently the worst of the worst) A month later it was not any better so I went to a sports med surgeon and he diagnosed a completely avulsed FTPL (knee ligament) and dislocated patella. Im still not sure which one to believe!
    Either way: No healing unless I have surgery. Not into doing THAT at the moment. :/
    So I brace and 'bute' up. I am 3 months out from the injury. For me~ Meloxicam works 10 times better than naproxen or tylenol. I can take the mexolicam and ride and its tolerable. I have to be careful because it is unstable. So I imagine yours is too. Be careful.
    huggs



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan. 24, 2004
    Location
    Sergeantsville, NJ
    Posts
    2,540

    Default

    Just to set your expectations - your age also makes a difference in how quickly you are back on your feet (and on your horse). Be attentive to physical therapy; I had meniscus surgery on both knees at different times and had PT only for the second surgery.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec. 4, 2002
    Location
    Dungeon of the Ivory Tower
    Posts
    20,394

    Default

    My MCL saga - it was probably a small tear. In the beginning. Lots of snow and ice and I am sure I torqued it at the barn, but there were plenty of other things going on and so while it hurt, it didn't hurt that bad. Until a few days later when I went to yoga and could.not.do.anything.

    I thought it might be Lyme arthritis, because that knee had been the most problematic of all my joints last summer. Went to the rheumatologist, she did a workup but said right off the bat it was an ortho consult. But it took 2 weeks (so now 3 weeks out) to get the MRI. And it kept getting worse.

    MRI showed minor chondral damage (at my age, surprisingly little), plus a great deal of inflammation in specific places (one right where the MCL tear was..hmmm...). But these tears are not so easily seen on an MRI.

    Went to an ortho I had seen before for other issues, some years back. Except now the practice is huge, and the only appointment in this century was with his physician's assistant. Who told me I had arthritis and I would get over it. Did not do any physical tests (cough, like the one that would have spotted the MCL tear). I kept insisting it was getting more and more unstable and painful. She finally relented and gave me a cortisone shot (which did nothing, and thus should have served as a red flag). She also gave me a brace (not the hinged kind for the MCL). I was surprised to find out that the brace helped.

    For a while. It got worse. And worse. I would try and get up out of a chair and often go splat. It had now been weeks since I could go up and down steps in any any approaching normality, and I couldn't sleep through the night since the pain would wake me up. I could not go down the hall without it catching at least a few times. I gave up not cursing for Lent. Got another cortisone shot, and some fluid drained. No help. Tried mounting my horse for the first time since his injury and thought I would pass out from the pain of trying to swing my right leg over his back. Anti-inflammatories were helpful for pain, but not inflammation (1 g naproxyn/day).

    At this point, since the PA told me "I should be over this by now" I went elsewhere - to a rehab specialist. Except by this point I'd pulled my patella out of whack, and my IT band was apparently the tightest he had ever seen, so he assumed this was secondary to ...you guessed it...arthritis. Sent me to PT. They sent me back immediately, realizing there had to be other issues. Rehab guy sent me for a surgical consult.

    Surgical consult did not do the MCL test. He looked at the now quite old MRI, injected me with lidocaine, apparently was deaf to the fact that two cortisone shots had done nothing, diagnosed me with arthritis and told me to get on an extensive physical program. Well, that would be fabulous. In fact, it's what I used to do! And if only I could have done it then!

    Are you still with me in my saga? So after a bit more PT, they said, "Have you gotten another MRI?" and "Maybe you need to make an appointment with your MD again."

    He was willing to do hylaronic acid injections, and I responded, "Can we entertain the formal possibility that this is not arthritis?"

    Second MRI: definite MCL tear (I think now in two places). Way more inflammation than before, and now, for real! I have damage to the meniscal cartilage and the cartilage that was a grade 2 is now a grade 3/4. Apparently this is what happens with bad knee articulation.

    So all that took from January through late May. I got the hinged brace with directions to wear 24/7 for 4-6 weeks. Did enough PT to give me strengthening exercises. Went back 2 weeks ago and was told in 2 weeks (like, now) I could take the brace off at night and then in another 2-3 start weaning off daytime use.

    I will try and start riding by the end of July, using the other brace. No stirrups, every other day or every 2 days. And build up slowly. That, apparently, is key. S-L-O-W.

    Think of this as a suspensory injury. I am now off stall rest, and can do some walking out of the stall (last night I went almost normally up and down the stairs without my brace, 1st time in 6 months). In a few weeks I can walk under saddle.

    As far as the meniscus - I was told that was fairly simple surgery (depending of course on the severity of the injury).

    What I did to keep my horse going: free lunging with not very much good transition work at first (hard to lift off my right leg). And long reining. Lots of long reining. No in hand, because I couldn't walk backwards or sideways. It kept him going though! And my PT would just roll her eyes. I still can't walk in the outdoor as that footing is more problematic for me (think: suspensory).

    I am so sorry you are going through this. Hopefully yours was caught early and it will be a quicker fix. But - as Jan says - be religious about your pT. hat will make an enormous difference.

    And ice!! Buy the neato ice bag in fabric form Walmart and use every night.
    www.specialhorses.org
    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues




  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep. 14, 2005
    Posts
    590

    Default Meniscus surgery

    OP, I hope you are doing OK.

    I am four days post meniscus trimming surgery. I had a lot of drainage from the small incisions, and while I can walk a few steps at a time I am still using crutches for anything longer than across the house. The pain from the torn meniscus is gone, but it is still quite sore still from the surgery. I was hoping to be back on the horse in 2-3 weeks but I am thinking it might be a little longer.

    Knees are important so I try to remind myself not to rush anything.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug. 7, 2006
    Location
    The not-so-frozen North
    Posts
    1,667

    Default

    Well, for an update, I'm now a few months post-injury. I religiously attended PT and did my exercises, and was able to ride again within a month and jump again not long after. Strangely, my riding improved tenfold while I was off - figure that out...

    PT was... ummm... hell. Yeah. Ouch. I would like to never experience that again!

    It does still hurt, but it's coming along. Traumeel and Voltaren are my buddies.

    Thank you all for your posts; they have been very helpful! DGRH - I hope your saga comes to a swift and ultimately healthy conclusion! And same to you, Monday. Being out and watching everyone else have fun is a real downer.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep. 14, 2005
    Posts
    590

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Across Sicily View Post
    Well, for an update, I'm now a few months post-injury. I religiously attended PT and did my exercises, and was able to ride again within a month and jump again not long after. Strangely, my riding improved tenfold while I was off - figure that out...
    Yay! I am glad you are doing so well. And, it is very encouraging to hear. I am at about 2 1/2 weeks post-surgery now and I am not quite strong enough to ride, but hopefully another week or two of PT and I will be.

    Glad it worked out well for you!



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2009
    Location
    Texas Upper Gulf Coast
    Posts
    375

    Default

    I feel for you and so understand. I just had meniscus surgery on August 19th. I was practically crippled. OMG walking was agony, going up steps/stairs ggaaaaaa. I had a cortisone shot which helped for a few days, wore a brace which helped somewhat, got a script for Mobic and started taking glucosamine which really did help. I had the MRI blah blah. Was nearly clubfooted for months as my right foot was turning in. I quit my job as that is what was making it worse - heavy lifting of paint/sheetrock mud at a Sherw!n W!illiams.

    It hurt somewhat to ride but more to walk. After I quit working it improved but still hurt and I was still limping. I did well after surgery and he said I could ride in 2 weeks which is this weekend. I probably won't ride but I may see if I can mount up. I was riding my horse 2x a week for about 17 miles a week. LOL he is now on a little vacation. I have iced it and am staying off of it as much as possible. The worst part was it hurt above the knee and the doc said that was blood pooling in the tissue after the surgery. That has eased also.

    Lizathenag said

    Treat yourself as well as you would treat your horse.

    If your horse were lame, would you ride him anyway???


    Thanks for that...I wouldn't ride my horse if he was hurting - he is my main source of recreation!!! LOL I do want to get better! Best of luck to all suffering with bad knees. It bites.
    Logging Miles with the Biscuit 530.5 Miles for 2011 visit my trail riding blog at www.dashingbigred.blogspot.com



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 8, 2005
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    2,236

    Default

    Before I took up riding, and while I was around 40 or so, I had a torn medial meniscus of unknown etiology. Can't quantitate the severity, though the surgeon apologized afterward saying he ended up carving out considerably more than he expected to based on the MRI, so I'm guessing it was pretty bad. To me it looked awful on the MRI.

    He laughed that he did the same surgery on Duke basketball players all the time, but they were 19, and he didn't expect me to heal as fast as they did. Who knows what the later consequences of their playing 3-4 post-op might have been.

    What I do recall was that it took me six months before my left leg was less painful to walk on than before the surgery, and that for weeks walking down stairs was the worst of all. Glad my car at the time was an enormous Cadillac with front wheel drive (no floor hump).

    Eventually my knee was (and even now remains) as if there were nothing ever wrong with it day-to-day, but it took a long time past the 6 months to reach that point. And for a couple years even after that if I dangled my legs from a chair or dock or anything with no support underneath, after about fifteen minutes the left knee would slowly begin to throb until I kept my foot on something solid.

    So mine has to be worst case scenario since I was older than you -- JanWeber has the age thing right -- plus I was a slightly overweight couch potato, less fit at the time than after I started riding and certainly am now.

    As to the poster commenting about riding much better post-surgically than before, I have to wonder if beforehand you might have been guarding your leg/knee. Protecting any part of your body will do a number on everything else, since everything pretty much plays in concert.

    Good luck. Mine may have taken a long time, but as I said, eventually it was as if nothing ever had happened to my knee. Certainly was never an issue for skating or riding.
    If I knew what I were doing, why would I take lessons?

    "Things should be as simple as possible,
    but no simpler." - Einstein



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