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Surgery for a torn meniscus

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  • Surgery for a torn meniscus

    Has anyone had this? How long was your recovery, and how soon were you allowed to ride again? How soon did you feel comfortable working with your horse on the ground (leading, grooming, turn-out, etc.) I'm scheduled for surgery on the 7th of June and am trying to figure out what to do with my horse (5 yr old TB); put her in training or just turn her out for some down time.

  • #2
    torn miniscus

    Originally posted by Brooke View Post
    Has anyone had this? How long was your recovery, and how soon were you allowed to ride again? How soon did you feel comfortable working with your horse on the ground (leading, grooming, turn-out, etc.) I'm scheduled for surgery on the 7th of June and am trying to figure out what to do with my horse (5 yr old TB); put her in training or just turn her out for some down time.
    My surgery was arthroscopic for a complex tear and bone polyps. Found a sports medicine surgeon. He had me walking out of the hospital that afternoon w a cane. Cane for about 1 days. Any motion was fine, as soon as I felt I could. Warned me to work on strengthening exercises for the support ligaments immediately.

    No down time. Painful, yes, but walkable, yes. In fact, he did a brilliant move: he put in anesthetic into the knee when I was released and told me to go walk until it hurt that afternoon. He said you have to get it into your mind that your knee works again and that you can trust it. He found that was the best way to get people to use their knees and do the strengthening exercises.

    You will be protective of it but if it's only miniscus damage, once it's cut out, there is nothing more to worry about. The worry is just to deal with what allowed the miniscus to tear in the first place.


    • #3
      I also went to a sports medicine surgeon (who operated on my shoulder previously) for meniscus surgery. I was out of riding for about 2 weeks. I was using a cane for a few days, but I had a large portion of the cartilage cut out because I essentially shredded it all. Within a week, I was walking fairly normally. I started PT the day after my surgery.

      I will say that when I started back to riding, it was really painful, but more due to the fact that one of my incision sites was against the saddle and I had a fair amount of scar tissue forming on that side, so it was breaking down while I was riding.
      Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


      • #4
        I had meniscus surgery by an old crusty doctor (who had also had the surgery himself). In my case, I'd ripped the meniscus and there was a little flap that would catch and cause pain, so the surgery was to cut out that flap and smooth the remainder. (Not an actual repair.) Went home on crutches with a couple of little stitches (it was done arthroscopically). I had a dressage clinic coming up in two weeks and was debating whether to wait until afterwards - Doc said to do the surgery and I'd be fine for the clinic. Other than needing a mounting block, I did do fine in the clinic.

        The weird thing was that I could not kneel without pain for about a year - then one day, I was working on something and knelt and it was fine. The doc said that seemed about normal to him.

        I don't think you have to plan for any extensive down time for your horse if your surgery went like mine. It took me probably 4 days to feel really stable walking and then it was ok to do normal horse things - my horses were not very rowdy though.


        • Original Poster

          Trailpal, that's what I have - a little flap of torn cartilage that catches. I have to talk to the Dr. at my pre-op, but I'm hoping that all he has to do is to snip off the torn portion and smooth it off. I'm feeling a lot more optimistic hearing all of the replies. I had looked it up on the internet, and some articles were talking 4 - 6 weeks recovery. So thanks, all. I hope it only takes a couple of weeks after all.


          • #6
            Originally posted by flashwhitelock View Post

            You will be protective of it but if it's only miniscus damage, once it's cut out, there is nothing more to worry about.
            not really. I have had two arthroscopic knee miniscus repairs and basically have no cartilage in my knee (except for the new tiny tear which hurts occasionally but ice does the trick).

            next stop is a knee replacement which I am not ready for.

            I climbed half dome 10 weeks to the day after my last arthroscopic surgery about 11 years ago.
            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


            • #7
              Had it done about 6 weeks ago. Went home on crutches and stayed on them for about a week. It slowly got better. Ice was my friend! I was back on my horse about 4 weeks later. It did feel a bit weird at first but it felt a heck of a lot better than it did before I had it done. It an easy Peaky surgery


              • #8
                just my 2 sense!

                I've had 3 arthoscopies for torn meniscus in L knee over a 10 yr period starting when I was in my late 40's. I agree with what others said. Limp for about 2 weeks and ride at walk 4 weeks and so on. There are other things to consider however. It's just not that simple. I'm a nurse too. I'm also assuming an "ectomy or removal of the torn area" and not a "plasty-or repair of the tear" A repair means absolute non-weight bearing and use of crutches until the sutured meniscus line heals for 6-8 weeks. It's another whole story. And there's even the cadaver meniscus transplant that can be done!
                Do what your orthopedist tells you - THAT'S what matters. He knows you & your injury so he will individualize your rehab program. It may or may not require PT BEFORE you get back on. Don't ride or run or anything until cleared by PT.
                You will be at risk for re-tear at that site for the rest of your life so another knee sprain or twist or stumble or injury to it can rip some more. My second one was stepping outa my horse trailer onto the ground and kinda turning my ankle a bit. Uneven ground is not your friend once you've had a meniscusectomy. My third one was dismounting/hopping down off my 16.2 horse and landing a bit awkwardly. So use a mounting block & stairs and don't do any jumping down off things! No biggie!...
                I highly encourage you to get the best stirrup irons you can afford (like Herme Sprengers) to take strain off your knee when riding. Yes keeping your ankle supported & in alignment translates to less knee strain.
                Wear high topped boots when hiking on uneven ground ex: paddock boots, hiking boots, riding boots all support your ankles. Avoid unnecessary concussion to your knee by wearing shock absorbing soled shoes when doing a lot of walking. Sneakers the best! Throw all your high heeled shoes away. Bad for knees.
                Be aware that you'll need to strenthen your quads to prevent further knee injuries. Walking up hills/stairs good. Walking down not good. Be careful going downhill.
                Lose weight if you need too. That puts added strain on your knees.
                Know that you'll be at risk for osteoarthritis of that knee. I can predict rain with my left knee!! Once the meniscus shreds it keeps shredding much of the time. I'm bone to bone hence my arthritis but life on Nsaids and occasional ice ain't so bad. Doesn't put a crimp in my foxhunting!!!
                Strong quads & leg muscles are the key to prevention and living with it. Good luck and be well. You'll do fine!


                • #9
                  I had it 2 years ago coming this August. I had a tear from many years ago aggravated by my job. My right foot was turning in towards my left foot. (I was told recently that was my back causing that - just had back surgery 4 weeks ago!)

                  I was riding one month later but I was walking my horse, grooming him, etc. within days. My right knee is still bigger than the left one though and the puffiness is still there. It was a piece of cake compared to this dang back surgery!
                  Logging Miles with the Biscuit 530.5 Miles for 2011 visit my trail riding blog at www.dashingbigred.blogspot.com


                  • Original Poster

                    Update on my surgery last week. Once in there, he found the tear of the lateral meniscus, but then also a little bit out of the other side also. In addition, there was a ACL tear that seems to have been healing itself, and then arthritis of the patella. He cleaned up the tear, and cleaned up the arthritis (now bone on bone). I was on crutches for a couple of days and am walking pretty well now, although I do get tired. I started PT today, and from what you're all saying, I'd better be good about strengthening it. I'm hoping that I'll be back riding in a couple more weeks. I have my post-op appt. next week. Thanks for all the advice - it helps to have some idea of what to expect.