If you have torn your meniscus, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your running. I developed a “bucket handle” tear in the meniscus in my right knee several years ago, not while running, but while doing some gardening! Important safety tip: Avoid squatting and bending your knees to an angle of less than 90 degrees.
I heard a pop and had some swelling, but was told it was probably a knee strain. I did some physical therapy for a while to build up the strength in my quadriceps. Note: Women and girls have been found to have more knee injuries than men and boys because their quadriceps muscles are not as strong.
My primary care doctor did what is called a “drawer test” on my knee, where you lie on your back with your knee bent and he pulls on your lower leg to see if your knee joint is stable. Mine wasn’t. We were both surprised when he was able to pull my knee out of joint. Not a fun experience.
I continued to run with the torn meniscus for several months without incident, but at the end of the Corporate Challenge race my knee came out of joint and I had to hop across the finish on one leg. It was time to see an orthopedic specialist.
I had an MRI, which showed the tear, and had the torn portion removed in a arthroscopic procedure. I came out of that surgery with four small scars on my knee and a lot of swelling. After a few days, I was able to start exercising and building up my quads again to help stabilize the joint. I have some some long term risk of arthritis in my knee, but I take a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement as a preventive measure to help preserve the remaining cartilage.
I try not to risk re-injuring my knee. I don’t do any deep knee bends anymore. I try not to kneel on that knee for long periods of time. When I fly, I like to be in an aisle seat on the left side of the plane so that I can stretch it out into the aisle if it gets stiff, which it does if it is in the same position for long periods of time.
I still ski, but I try not to take any extreme risks on the slopes. I have run three marathons (and I’m running Boston next Monday) on the knee, but I try not to run any “junk” miles and keep my running focused on three quality workouts a week to help me achieve my running goals.
Have you suffered a meniscus tear? How has it changed your running? Tell me in the comments.