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Meniscal Repair Surgery? (Stitches included)

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  • Meniscal Repair Surgery? (Stitches included)

    Anyone ever had a torn meniscus that was actually repaired arthroscopically? Mine is torn, but my ortho says that with where the tear is, he can put in a series of stitches and it will (hopefully) heal back, rather than him just slicing out that portion of the meniscus.
    • Pros: more stability in the knee, helping prevent onset of arthritis.
    • Cons: 4 weeks in immobilizer brace, except for when I'm at PT, possibility that the stitches won't hold.

    Wondering if anyone has ever had this done, and if so, what was your recovery time like once the brace came off? I'm hoping I'll be cleared to be back in the saddle as soon as the brace comes off, but unfortunately I'm in a very non-horsey area so my doc/PT don't really know much about riding. Input appreciated!

  • #2
    Best guess........

    Depending on the number of sutures, you could in theory start no stirrups soon as ROM is adequate and depending on protocol, that could be as soon as 4 weeks.

    I'm in a more conservative area where 6 weeks in an immobilizer w/passive motion started as soon as 2 weeks.

    Of course the X factor is the fall.....

    In terms of progressing activity, w/o knowing discipline/activity level/age and other pathologies on that or opposite side that could effect movement, it is hard to say when you can "ride normally".

    If you were in this area I would estimate no sooner than 8-10 weeks depending on your strength and motion.

    Medical Mike
    Equestrian Medical Researcher


    • #3
      Crap. I'm having this done in early Jan - thanks to a tear in my MCL that wasn't diagnosed for 5 months, I've done damage to the meniscal cartilage, so I'm hoping for a trim and not the sutures...don't know if there's a tear too. Every time I think it isn't maybe such a problem the cartilage flips back again and reminds me.
      a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


      • Original Poster

        Geek, from what I was told by my ortho, most people do just have the trim, and recover beautifully. I actually *chose* the sutures (provided when the Dr. gets in there it still looks feasible). I managed to tear the meniscus in a rare and special place, making sutures possible! I decided the possibility of more knee stability and not losing that tissue was worth the 4 weeks of immobilizer brace...it's what comes after the brace that I'm fretting about now. And of course after all this, the sutures might not hold and I could be back in for the "trim" surgery...fun times to be had!

        My gimpy knee and I feel your pain.


        • #5
          I had the trim. And guess what I'm doing this coming Monday morning??? Having the surgery again, 6 years after the first one.

          I too have a tear in a special place LOL. I have a tear in the anterior horn. They aren't sure if they are going to be able to put stitches in until they actually are in there looking around. I don't want the down time but I want my knee fixed. The last horse trials of the season was last weekend so I want to have it done and be on my way to recovery for next season.

          They told me I can go without surgery again but it will only get worse. I'm a runner so I definitely need my knee to work. I'm tired of the pain. It's been bothering me off and on for the past 2 years. It's locked up a couple times. Sometimes I feel pain all the way into the left side of my left foot. I kept running on it and ignoring it the best I could and caused bone bruises. I also have a cyst that the tear is leaking fluid into. Ugh. I don't know what I did to tear it in the first place or this time.

          I won't be in a brace though. All I have is Polar Care and some crutches. Every surgeon is different.

          Wish me luck for this Monday!


          • #6
            Kate, Geek and JP I wish you all the best of success with whichever method you choose. You all are wise to try to save what's left of your meniscus and hopefully prevent or at least delay the onset of arthritis if possible. I'm 43 and headed in for a total knee replacement on 11/30 (I'm bone on bone with no other alternative at this point) so I'm at the other end of the spectrum but I'll be recovering and rehabbing right along with you so take your time, rest up and get strong. Take care


            • #7
              Grace67 - yikes!!! BUT our farrier had 2 knees done at 65 and he has done beautifully.

              And why did I pick Jan 3rd?...because I can bring things to a good point at work...and because the weather should be bad enough it wouldn't be good for barn time anyway!
              a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


              • #8
                I finally had knee surgery on the worst of my knees in December 2008 (Christmas gift to myself). Doctor was going in blind because all the tests said nothing was wrong except for the last ten years of pain! Found a torn meniscus under my knee cap. He choose to stitch it based on my activity level as it would provide more stability, however I will need a knee cap replacement in about 3-5 years. (At which point I asked why he didn't just do it then.) Anyways, I wore a brace clear into February. Towards the end of February doc was considering doing surgery again... and then I got ran over by a terrified TWH, the following day my knee was better... go figure.

                My advice, don't attempt riding until you can bend your knee. They had me riding a bike as part of my PT. It took awhile to get the pedal over the top like normal! Then wear a brace while you rebuild that muscle. For me, a posting trot is still the hardest thing to do. But it always was... guess that is why my friends are jealous of my sitting trot because that's pretty much all I do now!

                Now, to find a doctor that can help fix the nerve damage in my arm/hand.

                And I should say I really find my tiny scars fascinating, as they resemble little division symbols. Good luck.


                • #9
                  I am not really of help because they ended up trimming 50% off of my medial meniscus but I will wish you good luck! The doc went in with the philosophy that he would repair if possible, trim if not. It was much more damaged than the MRI showed and he ended up trimming. 5 months later I can ride with only minor pain, but it does still hurt after a long day of activity, and it swells a little bit every evening too. It is much better than before the surgery though!

                  Good luck and a speedy recovery!


                  • #10
                    Nurse chimes in!

                    Truthfully? I've had 3 meniscus tears and removals arthroscopically over a dozen years. Repairs only work IF you are totally non weight bearing for the WHOLE time needed. 8 weeks they said for me. NO WEIGHT ON THAT LEG AT ALL!! The suture line will tear if there's any weight on it. Not even for transfers. I just couldn't/wouldn't be able to do that. Couldn't afford or manage that kinda downtime. And there's no guarantee you won't retear. Once it starts; often you keep retearing and are facing this again and again. I chose removals, am bone to bone somewhat, told I could have a total knee but.....the ONLY thing that helped was losing a huge amount of weight and regaining my fitness. Fat people don't rehab well from knee injuries! They are more likely to re-injure. Sorry to say it took me losing #200 to stop using a cane, get off meds and stop hurting & limping. Get your weight down to normal if you have bad meniscuses and keep your quads strong. Exercise will help prevent re-injury.

                    But with removals you can be ambulatory almost right away and back in the saddle as soon as like 2 weeks!
                    Talk to your doc & PT for their inputs! Ask them to be totally honest with you! Me? No total knee yet for me! I'm good! Foxhunting! Have a farm. Maybe someday. Right now I'm only sore before it rains! or after a long walk on uneven ground like when I'm hiking or foot hunting! Yowza! Someday....but not today!!


                    • #11
                      Well I had my surgery yesterday and everything went great! They ended up not putting stitches in because of the way the tear was there wasn't a spot to stitch. I will be non-weight bearing this first week. I see my doc a week from today and he said I can lose the crutches after that and I'll start physical therapy. He said that the tear looked like "crab meat" in there and stuff was a mess. I'm so relieved I didn't wait any longer and just had the surgery and can be on my way to recovery, again.

                      The first time was just a trim too and I full recovered. I did half marathons and triathlons even after the knee started bothering me again. It was never debilitating. Riding never bothers it. I'm going to give the knee until March before I start half marathon training again. It looks like I should be riding in 2-3 weeks though.


                      • #12
                        wonderful news!
                        a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                        • Original Poster

                          JumpingPercheron, glad it went well! I have a feeling mine might look worse once they get in (based on the level of discomfort I have). Here's hoping your recovery goes smoothly! Keep us updated on how it goes.

                          WateryGlen, I know I need to do everything possible to keep from re-tearing the sutures. My ortho laid it on the table for me that I may very well tear the sutures and have to go back in for a trim, or the sutures might not take at all and I have to have a trim...sigh. He has not said that he wants me non-weight bearing. Hopefully he's not going to surprise me with that on the day of--time to call the nurse. Again.


                          • #14
                            Glad to hear it went well. Be careful. I had mine done in August and was able to ride a month later. A month after that I got off my horse and stepped in a slight depression and my knee was pretty unhappy about it. Started gaining fluid but I combated it by staying off of it and icing it. It is still not 100% but riding doesn't bother me at all.

                            Sitting and standing for long periods is the worst thing for me so I try to move around!
                            Logging Miles with the Biscuit 530.5 Miles for 2011 visit my trail riding blog at www.dashingbigred.blogspot.com


                            • Original Poster

                              Had my surgery today--like JumpingPercheron, it ended up being just a trim. Doc told my mom I wasn't a good candidate for sutures when he got in there and got a look at it "in person". Nothing as descriptive as "shredded crabmeat" though! So I have post-op on Friday, and after that I start PT and hopefully will be cleared to ride before too long. Right now I'm busy making the walker a fashion statement. (I am SO not coordinated enough for crutches, so it's a walker for me!)


                              • #16
                                I had a meniscal tear and they went in and cleaned it up. I was back riding 10 days after surgery. I tried with the stitches but it hurt.


                                • #17

                                  Congrats TBKate! You'll do fine! Just do what they tell you and advise you.

                                  THE most likely scenario for re-tearing is re-spraining your knee with strong impact or uneven ground. I re-tore hopping off my horsetrailer step and landed on uneven grass clump. Kinda "taking a wrong step" sorta thing. The other time was jumping down off a horse. Moral to the story? After knee surgery = use mounting blocks to mount & unmount. Try to decrease the concussion to your knees. Wear good sneakers for all long times on your feet. Use stairs whenever you can. Wear good shoes on uneven ground (like lace up paddock boots or hiking boots) that support your ankle too. And....keep fit, lose weight and accept your decripitudes gracefully as a part of aging!! We;re all getting there! Some faster than others!!
                                  Welcome to the gimpy knee set!!


                                  • #18
                                    My surgery is scheduled for 3 weeks from today... last night every time I tried to post my knee felt like it was popping sideways and the rest of my leg was moving up and down...sorta. Cantering is difficult when you are very ineffective with one leg! So we didn't do very much.
                                    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues