2

votes

Torn knee cartilage: any success stories?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 15, 2013 at 3:52 PM

My husband damaged his knee during a ruck march 7 years ago and has had trouble with his knee since then. He re-injured the same knee last year when he fell at work. This January he finally got health insurance so he could get it looked at.

Walking hurts, he has to walk really fast so his legs are completely straight. If he walks slower, his knees bend and it hurts a lot. Obviously, he can't do exercise either.

He was told he has a torn meniscus (missing/torn cartilage?), and had a MRI. He's having steroid shots on his knee and has just started physical therapy.

But reading about it, it doesn't seem like it works and may even do more harm than good. Everything we find online seems to indicate nothing works and this only gets worse. I actually know quite a few people who had to leave the military because of this same problem, despite having the steroids, physical therapy, and even knee surgery.

Is there something that works?

We eat bone stock made from tons of cartilage but that's probably just hopeless dreaming.

He's always been fit, his legs are very muscular (he's a Viking god!), he stretches before attempting to work out his legs.

Because he's busy he asked me to look into this for him.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on March 16, 2013
at 08:52 PM

My knowledge on the matter is completely limited to my own experience, I'm afraid. Wish I could help. I'll say again, though... find a good PT or a good Chiro. Ask around, patients are never shy about recommending good healers. They probably diagnosed through hands-on & observation. Possibly used the MRI to rule out other possibilities. Good luck to him...

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:33 PM

Posted a follow-up under Kashkillz's answer.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:33 PM

Thanks, your details got me started on research and I found some interesting information.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:29 PM

If plica is really his problem instead of torn meniscus, and the plica is rubbing on bone (bone rubbing on bone) I'm curious how to fix it except removing the plica (which in theory got out of place/stuck because of shock/injury?). They're doing exercises for his hip and told him to get shoe inserts. Hmm... confusing.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:27 PM

If plica is rubbing on bone (bone rubbing on bone) I'm curious how to fix them except removing it. They're doing exercises for his hip and told him to get shoe inserts. Hmm... confusing.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:21 PM

Even sleeping in bed it hurts if he moves around. He has an excuse slip for exercise in the army, so that's OK, but his job is very physical and he has to deal with the pain there. Because he already had steroids he can't have surgery (to remove the plica) for one year. So it's worrying he'll have to work in pain for another year. Seems everything is being done backwards. If they just removed the plica he would be able to rest and then go back to work as normal, no? He can't live in advil forever. Then he'll get liver problems on top of knee problems, GREAT!!!

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:18 PM

What strikes me as odd is he's getting steroids. That doesn't seem applicable to plica. He's had problems with that knee for 7 years now. He's never been a sedentary person and always worked out his legs and knees. Braces never helped. He's already being told to buy inserts for his shoes (didn't help 7 years ago, certainly won't work now!)

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:05 PM

So I looked at his papers and it seems his diagnosis was changed to "painful plica". Everything I find online says "plica is not detectable by external means including xray or mri", so I wonder how they detected it since they didn't look inside. I would think if the plica is stuck or rubbing on bone that the best thing would be to remove it, everything else sounds like just a band-aid.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on March 16, 2013
at 04:53 AM

thx for all the tips. never thought about the barefoot thing, but makes sense, kinda forces better posture, rather then relying on (potentially suspect) support from footwear.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on March 16, 2013
at 02:05 AM

Working in wetsuit boots & working out barefoot have also helped.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on March 16, 2013
at 02:04 AM

Also, mind your alignment. While your knee is week you'll be relying on your glutes to pull your hip around to point your toes fwd. always point your toes straight while walking. Also always avoid bending at the knee such that your knee rides out ahead of your foot. Wear a brace if you need to, but not while doing isolation work.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:59 AM

The best exercise I've found is to stand to the left of a stationary bike. I do 12 reps fwd, toe pointing out, 12 toe pointing in, repeat backwards. Your injured leg should feel tight and tired after, but not sore. I do this 3-4 times a week. Sometimes at work I'll go to the head and do asymmetric squats (80% injured leg).

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:56 AM

About two years ago. It got so bad I'd have to pull over on the way home from work some nights. It was a desk job, mind you... and only a 20 mile drive. I've been working on it for about 6 months now, and most days I don't even think about it anymore... unless I neglect my exercises. I don't even use a brace to walk my dog or put in 40 min on the kettlebell. Every now & then I'll tweak it if I forget and try to launch off my right without putting thought into my alignment. And, I can't comfortably kneel on that knee at all, really. I'm very pleased overall.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:08 AM

how long since the injury Kashkillz & how's the recovery going? i tore my medial meniscus (self diagnosed, have not gone gone for mri yet) nearly 4 months ago. i was waiting to see how well (or if) it would heal before going to see a doc (for mri). it has improved but will still 'click' quite badly when fully bent.

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3 Answers

2
Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

on March 15, 2013
at 08:00 PM

I suffered a considerably less severe (than what you're describing) tear on my inner right meniscus.

After forking over the copay for the initial diagnosis I hit the netwebz and formulated my own rehab plan.

The key is to strengthen the supporting muscle groups. The real key is to regain symmetry. The injured leg will be weaker than the healthy leg due to the latter's overcompensation. Once the injured leg is strong enough to carry its fair share, the meniscus will be able to heal.

Obviously it is important to build this strength gently, so as not to further damage to cartilage.

If you're talking about injuries to both legs I have to apologize. I wouldn't know where to start. I will say that, personally, I always prefer to see a chiropractor or pt rather than an ortho...

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on March 16, 2013
at 02:04 AM

Also, mind your alignment. While your knee is week you'll be relying on your glutes to pull your hip around to point your toes fwd. always point your toes straight while walking. Also always avoid bending at the knee such that your knee rides out ahead of your foot. Wear a brace if you need to, but not while doing isolation work.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:29 PM

If plica is really his problem instead of torn meniscus, and the plica is rubbing on bone (bone rubbing on bone) I'm curious how to fix it except removing the plica (which in theory got out of place/stuck because of shock/injury?). They're doing exercises for his hip and told him to get shoe inserts. Hmm... confusing.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on March 16, 2013
at 04:53 AM

thx for all the tips. never thought about the barefoot thing, but makes sense, kinda forces better posture, rather then relying on (potentially suspect) support from footwear.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on March 16, 2013
at 02:05 AM

Working in wetsuit boots & working out barefoot have also helped.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:18 PM

What strikes me as odd is he's getting steroids. That doesn't seem applicable to plica. He's had problems with that knee for 7 years now. He's never been a sedentary person and always worked out his legs and knees. Braces never helped. He's already being told to buy inserts for his shoes (didn't help 7 years ago, certainly won't work now!)

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:59 AM

The best exercise I've found is to stand to the left of a stationary bike. I do 12 reps fwd, toe pointing out, 12 toe pointing in, repeat backwards. Your injured leg should feel tight and tired after, but not sore. I do this 3-4 times a week. Sometimes at work I'll go to the head and do asymmetric squats (80% injured leg).

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:56 AM

About two years ago. It got so bad I'd have to pull over on the way home from work some nights. It was a desk job, mind you... and only a 20 mile drive. I've been working on it for about 6 months now, and most days I don't even think about it anymore... unless I neglect my exercises. I don't even use a brace to walk my dog or put in 40 min on the kettlebell. Every now & then I'll tweak it if I forget and try to launch off my right without putting thought into my alignment. And, I can't comfortably kneel on that knee at all, really. I'm very pleased overall.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:27 PM

If plica is rubbing on bone (bone rubbing on bone) I'm curious how to fix them except removing it. They're doing exercises for his hip and told him to get shoe inserts. Hmm... confusing.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on March 16, 2013
at 08:52 PM

My knowledge on the matter is completely limited to my own experience, I'm afraid. Wish I could help. I'll say again, though... find a good PT or a good Chiro. Ask around, patients are never shy about recommending good healers. They probably diagnosed through hands-on & observation. Possibly used the MRI to rule out other possibilities. Good luck to him...

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:05 PM

So I looked at his papers and it seems his diagnosis was changed to "painful plica". Everything I find online says "plica is not detectable by external means including xray or mri", so I wonder how they detected it since they didn't look inside. I would think if the plica is stuck or rubbing on bone that the best thing would be to remove it, everything else sounds like just a band-aid.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:08 AM

how long since the injury Kashkillz & how's the recovery going? i tore my medial meniscus (self diagnosed, have not gone gone for mri yet) nearly 4 months ago. i was waiting to see how well (or if) it would heal before going to see a doc (for mri). it has improved but will still 'click' quite badly when fully bent.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:21 PM

Even sleeping in bed it hurts if he moves around. He has an excuse slip for exercise in the army, so that's OK, but his job is very physical and he has to deal with the pain there. Because he already had steroids he can't have surgery (to remove the plica) for one year. So it's worrying he'll have to work in pain for another year. Seems everything is being done backwards. If they just removed the plica he would be able to rest and then go back to work as normal, no? He can't live in advil forever. Then he'll get liver problems on top of knee problems, GREAT!!!

1
B36bbab16837fe6d60eb2b5a49a561ed

(314)

on March 15, 2013
at 04:31 PM

I'm not in the military, and my story is definitely a lot different, but I have had 2 knee surgeries on my left knee, due to a torn meniscus, so hopefully my experience will be helpful in some way.

In my opinion, the only way your husband is going to find actual, long term, relief, is by going to a doctor and finding out exactly what is torn, and how badly. Normally this will be accomplished using an MRI of the affected knee. I would recommend that he gets more than one opinion before deciding on a course of action, but if it is torn, the best option would probably be to have the torn part removed, as opposed to repaired. Removal allows for a much faster recovery, but does come with the possible down side of some pain in the future. The repair has a tendency to fail, depending on the location, due to a lack of blood supply. It takes a long time to heal up and requires a lot more down time and care.

My first surgery was an attempted repair, which was only successful in that it eliminated most of the pain and allowed me to bend my knee again, the torn part was wedged into my knee joint, but the repair did not take well and never fully healed. Plus, with the repair, I was off of my feet for weeks, before being able to start physical therapy.

My second surgery was a removal of 20% of my meniscus. I was back walking around within 2 days, and in physical therapy with a week. It's been just over a year now and I am back to being able to do everything I could do before the original injury. I do have some random pain from time to time, but I would say that I am at about 90% of my original state. I lift heavy weights, and squat regularly, with little trouble. Your husbands line of work could limit his ability to truly recover, as long weighted walks are going to be rough on anyone's knees. Long distances runs, in boots, with weight, are going to be even harder on the knees.

All in all, i recommend finding a great doctor and getting a diagnosis, then go from there.

Be careful with joint supplements also, as some of them can cause more harm than good. Gelatin might be helpful though, and I take it normally to help keep what cartilage I have left in good shape

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:33 PM

Thanks, your details got me started on research and I found some interesting information.

0
21a1a131a0674d12ef7cdfca8a192e1f

(50)

on March 15, 2013
at 10:19 PM

Jake, what do you mean when you say "Be careful with joint supplements also, as some of them can cause more harm than good", which supplements are you talking about?

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