arthroscopic meniscus surgery--6 weeks to tennis?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by blakesq, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    HI All,

    I am 47 years old, 240 lbs, 5'11", had arthroscopic knee surgery first week in June for a torn meniscus. Been going to physical therapy since (and a little before the surgery). Stairs still hurt a bit (both going up and down). But I really want to start playing doubles tennis again.

    Looking to play next week, where it will be exactly 6 weeks and 1 day after the surgery. Am I crazy? I asked the physical therapist, and she said, be careful, but give it a try to see how the knee does, and ice it afterwards and take ibuprofen.

    What say you all? Thanks!
     
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  2. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    I think that tennis is a stressful activity and that your leg muscles and connective tissues will be weak for some movements despite physical therapy. I was off longer and my conditioning had really gone down, my weak legs were the last thing to be ready for tennis. Why don't you plan on a gradual come back to tennis? Jog at a track, etc?

    There are also several recent threads on knee injuries with information on causes such as posture, that affect and can injure your knees. Did they identify any individual issues and strengthen or stretch any muscles to correct them? Are those things better now given your treatment and physical therapy?

    You body mass index is 33.5. I've always felt less stress on my knees any time that I've lost say, 5%, of my weight.

    Did your MRI report show any possible future problems that you might head off, such as patellar-femoral cartilage damage? Get the written copy and check all the conditions listed.
     
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  3. RedWeb

    RedWeb Semi-Pro

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    I had lateral meniscus surgery on both my knees at the same time. I'm 57, 210 lbs, 6'3". It hit me harder than I thought and I started playing way to soon (6 weeks). Its amazing how much strength the muscles around the knees lose after surgery. If you don't take time to strength knee support structure there is fear that more problems might arise. My Vastus Medialis were especially hit hard. Below is link to video showing some good exercises.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwMndGlOq34

    Unless you have a good therapist geared toward high level athletics you might not be doing enough to prepare for the rigors of tennis. I certainly did not and learned some lessons. I'm just starting to get back to where I was post surgery and its been over a year.

    Proceed with caution and hit specific strengthening exercises hard (google will show you a lot of options).

    Good luck!
     
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  4. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    I've had meniscus surgery twice--once on each knee. The first time, it was about 5-4 weeks before I started having confidence in my movement. The second time, I was back playing in a competitive basketball league 20 days after surgery. The difference was that after the second one I had a better idea of what I was getting into and knew what to do to get back on my feet.
     
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  5. adventure

    adventure Banned

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    Your PT doesn't sound completely confident that it's a good idea at this stage. Can you hold out 2-4 weeks longer to gain additional strength and/or flexibility?

     
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  6. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Professional

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    Why don't you try hitting against a wall first for a little and see how your knee responds to that?

    It's more controlled and you don't have to go for anything forceful; you can test yourself at your pace.

    If it doesn't like it, then you'll know you're not ready for tennis yet.

    Then maybe progress to a light practice session so you can hit shots at the baseline, volley, serve, etc...

    See how you feel then...

    If still ok, then doubles or something.

    Better to come back slowly and right, instead of testing yourself out hard then taking a step backward.

    Good luck!
     
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  7. jk175d

    jk175d Semi-Pro

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    I had meniscus surgery 17 days ago. I've heard such a wide range of symptoms, surgery experience, and recovery times. For me I had about 1/6 removed from my left knee medial, and just a very small tear cleaned up on the lateral. I didn't need crutches at all after the first day, and didn't even need them the first day, but used them some as I was hobbling around the house just to see if they helped. I also didn't need any pain killers.

    I had full extension in that leg after a couple of days and started PT 4 or 5 days after the surgery. After a few days of PT I could flex that leg fully. I'm motivated, as I'm sure you are, so I've been doing all the PT exercises and stretches (and icing) every day. I can feel how they've made a big difference. At this point my knee and leg feels pretty much normal almost all the time. It gets a little tender after some of the PT moves. I've added stationary bike to my PT and that feels fine.

    It's the planting and twisting that I'm worried about, I haven't done anything to test that. But my target is the 4 week mark. Assuming it continues to improve as it has been I feel like I'll be able to try some casual hitting by then.

    But... I'm 6' 170 and was in great tennis shape prior to the injury. The MRI and the scope revealed the rest on my knee (bone surfaces and cartilage) to be in great condition. So I think all those factors should help contribute to mine being on the faster side of the range of recovery times. good luck!

    I'll be interested to know how it goes. You're aiming for a similar time-table as me but you're a couple of weeks ahead. Please post a follow-up after you get back out on the court.
     
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  8. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    With meniscus issues (and be assured you still have them following this surgery), I wouldn't play until I had gotten down to 200 pounds.
     
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  9. jk175d

    jk175d Semi-Pro

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    Why do you say that? I've heard and read a wide variation of recovery stories. It seems like I've read more here and in other health forums about people who complained of continued problems after surgery, but of all the people I've actually talked to who have had meniscus surgery (10 or 15) all but one said they had no further problems after surgery. (Though there was still a wide range of recovery times)

    So from what I've heard... it doesn't sound "assured" that issues will continue. That said, I know weight and fitness play a role. And if one is heavy I'm sure that a) the knees are generally in worse shape to begin with than a fit person, and b) there is a higher likelihood of continued issues.
     
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  10. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    With injuries there's a lot of uncertainty and various outcomes. If interested, track down some research.

    I used to think that going under the knife for minor surgery was routine. A considerable number of people I knew had blood clot complications after meniscus surgery and others did not.
     
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  11. jk175d

    jk175d Semi-Pro

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    hey Blake... care to give an update?
     
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  12. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Hi all, I just played today for the first time since my surgey 7 weeks ago. Timing was off on 1st serves, but other than that, played doubles decently. I didn't run much for balls unless just running forward. Took two mega tylenol prior to playing and iced afterward. Knee feels good so far.
     
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  13. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Morning after first time back. Knee is a bit achy, but not terrible. Right arm is also bit achy from lack of play. All in all, feel pretty good. However, knee still not as strong as prior to surgery. Hopefully that comes with time.
     
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  14. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    knee got more sore as the day went on. doesn't look particularly swollen. But it is sore and stiff.
     
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  15. DirtBaller4

    DirtBaller4 Rookie

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    I had meniscus surgery a few years back from a skiing accident.

    My knees still ache but knee braces and ice help me cope.

    Get a hydraulic stepper if you are serious about it, otherwise, just let the balls just out of reach go and adapt your game.

    [​IMG]

    I used one of these after my knee surgery to get back to skiing. You get a low impact nuclear workout from these things and they can be picked up for pretty cheap.
     
    #15
  16. adventure

    adventure Banned

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    I really don't understand what you're doing.

    1. You're 60 lbs. weight. Your doctors and physical therapists are being negligent if they don't make a point of it for you to alter what you eat and how much you eat.

    2. they should probably be advocating knee safe exercise options such as cycling and swimming and flat terrain walking.

    3. I'm assuming you had some portion of the damaged meniscus removed; if so, this means you have LESS protection than before, in addition to dealing with recovery from surgery.

    4. your knee has endured and seems to still be recovering from a trauma (surgery).

    Now, you want to resume with a high impact sport like tennis, which consists almost exclusively of high load stops and starts without fixing ANY of the initial issues, with LESS protective meniscus than before.

    Forgive me for saying so, but your decision making seems rather stupid.

     
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  17. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Your BMI is 33.5 that is classified as obese.

    If you really want to play tennis you have to lose weight first if you don't then I fear, surgery of not, your knees will only get worse.
     
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  18. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    You are right, have lost bout 12 pounds since surgery. But, am not going to sit on my *** until I get to my ideal weight.
     
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  19. adventure

    adventure Banned

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    You don't have to sit on your a-- until you reach your ideal weight. You can remain active as a swimmer, cyclist and going through your independent PT exercises. You can also go on flat walks.

    It seems you have been exploited so that the doctors can make a quick buck off your surgery.

    The way you're headed now, you'll be back in for another surgery to remove even more meniscus, and then eventually a knee replacement, probably both knees.

    You're just ruining your health and making the doctors rich.

    You've got to look out for your own interests since the doctors don't care at all.

    I guarantee you everything I wrote will happen to you, UNLESS you address the underlying issues first.
     
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  20. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Hard words but I think Adventure is right on the money.
     
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  21. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    Some things that help:

    a) Going to the seashore each second year or so (the salted particles- aerosols get charged electrically and act as a lubricant in your joints)

    b) Glucosamine+ Omega 3 (fish oil)+ vitamin D + aspirin.
     
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  22. mmk

    mmk Professional

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    One reason would be that in many (most?) meniscus surgeries the damaged portion of the meniscus is trimmed, rather than re-attached. So, you end up with less meniscus tissue than you had before the injury, and therefore less cushioning in the knee. Then you have a greater chance of further injury, it becomes a vicious cycle, ending up with an artificial knee. As others have noted, dropping weight is a good idea to lessen the load on the reduced meniscus.
     
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  23. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    I play tennis about 4 times a week on average.

    In 2000, the surgeon estimated that I had 30-40% of my medial meniscus removed. In 2011, in a followup X Ray, the Dr was impressed that both knee cartilage areas still had similar and very good separation.

    I asked him how much meniscus could be removed and still have the knee function OK. He said 85%. (I don't think that he was including any tennis activity, just lower stress knee activity.)

    I wore a knee brace as a precaution for a few years after my 2000 surgery.

    For many years I would ask my self "Why don't you lose some weight and get in better shape." (6' 3", 220 lbs). Then I started asking myself "How many times am I going to live?" "Am I going to get in shape in my next lifetime?" Those questions got to me. I lost 20 lbs and joined a gym. The leg exercises strengthened and tightened my knee muscles, tendons and, I guess, the ligaments at the knee. I got faster. I stopped using the brace.

    "How many times are you going to live?"
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013
    #23
  24. mmk

    mmk Professional

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    In 2002 I managed the "unhappy triad", tore my left ACL, MCL and meniscus. So I've got a dead guy's patellar tendon in place of my ACL, the MCL healed, and I had part of my meniscus removed. When I play tennis I wear braces on both knees as insurance, although I could probably get by without them. Peace of mind doesn't cost that much, and I can still move quite well with the braces.

    I also managed in 2000 to completely tear two ligaments in my right ankle, partially tore a third, ruptured the joint capsule and had a high ankle sprain, turning everything below the knee pure black. So I wear ankle braces as well, again for insurance. I'd rather be safe than sorry, but I'm also not young.
     
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  25. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    220 lbs at 6' 3" may not be too bad, depends also on your build, right?

    What if you have wide hips, heavy bones, large head, tons of muscles?
    Maybe not all of it is flab...

    They also use a measurement like 40" for your waist, maybe that's a better approximation (but then again, does it apply to tall people with large hips?).
     
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  26. adventure

    adventure Banned

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    This is a spiritual and philosophical question, but I believe the answer is that we have an infinite number of lives.

    But, the question of what we want to do in this life, is apt here.

    For a person with a bmi of 34, the answer is to lose weight first with knee safe exercise before returning to tennis.

    But it's his life and he wants to play tennis now, so we can only warn the rest.

     
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  27. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    Dunno, I got a bmi close to 30 and knock on wood not too many injuries worth mentioning...I do play daily and gradually try to play harder and longer.
     
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  28. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    I came across this 2008 thread.

    Have you decided on any changes?
     
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  29. anantak2k

    anantak2k Semi-Pro

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    I waited 4months+ after an arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus.
    I honestly don't think 6 weeks is quite enough. It may be okay for hitting against the wall or something but that's about it. And I had my surgery when I was around 22, 140lbs, 5'5.
    After about a year it finally felt like I was back to 100% with my movement and footwork. Now after 5 years there is still no pain at all and I am moving really well and happy with the results of the surgery.

    Hope it all goes well for you. But I recommend not to start playing too soon, as difficult as it may be.

     
    #29
  30. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    Similar case here: about a year before doing surgery, then about 6 months post surgery (non arthroscopic, but full), recovery, including electro-therapy and finally going ...to the beach (in a couple of days my knee held fully).
     
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