View Full Version : Backpacking after a bucket-handle tear of the meniscus?

08-31-2004, 10:39
I tore mine in June 03. Didn't get it diagnosed until yesterday though.

Dr said it might be repairable but probably not. If it is, it'll take 6 months to heal, 6 wks of which I'll be on crutches. If it is not repairable, the procedure is easy I'm told and recovery time is a mere 3 wks.

I'm worried either way how this may affect my activities, particularly hiking and backpacking. I'm already ultralight and in the mood to go hyperlight so my load will be taken care of. I'm just curious what others have experienced with this type of injury.

Any input would be appreciated.


08-31-2004, 11:03
First and foremost, get a second opinion! I had an ortho that did an ACL fix on me, and he did a terrible job. It tore again, had it fixed by a guy that did all the ortho work for the Florida Gators, and he did an amazing job. The first guy had me on crutchs for the better part of 3 months. The second guy I was walking in under a week! Amazing difference! All surgeons are NOT created equal. If you can go to someone that treats professional athletes (they usually have signed swag in the front office) that's best. 2nd, physical therapy is KEY to getting back on your feet fast. With both ACL repairs, I also had a fair amount of miniscus damage, and they had to trim some away...

6 weeks on crutches for a miniscus repair sounds awfully long. Also catilage rarely heals because blood flow is so bad, so it would be worth to see what another doctor thinks.

Good luck! 6 months seems like forever, but it really isn't THAT long, especially if you feel great after it is fixed.

Chances are, if you can hike and backpack now, you will be able to do it no problem after the surgery. Unless they remove all the meniscus, or the guy is a total hack, he will only make it better.

I have no problems hiking, and my knee never feels better than after I've been out a couple of weeks.

Gravity Man

08-31-2004, 12:38
I had my pain diagnosed incorrectly as a bone spur 12 years ago, I should have gotten a second opinion, but I thought this Dr. was really good (I heard he was the Jet's or Ranger's team Dr. back in the 80's)
I had no insurance and could not do anything about fixing the problem. 11 years later I got insurance, I decided I need not live with pain. Best move I made in years.
A different Dr. and a MRI and a torn meniscus was found.
I had meniscus surgery August5,2003. I used crutches on the way home from the surgery center and then a cane for three days. Started physical therapy 2 weeks later and then I was day hiking 12 miles on the AT in CT over the Labor day weekend. Only a month later!
I built up my leg strength and have not had any pain, at work or on the trail. :banana
Of course your case may be different. Get A second opinion

08-31-2004, 13:01
Rusty ...I work at an orthopedic/sports med clinic and see lots of meniscus tears like yours. Your prognosis will depend a great deal on the degree of damage and the amount of meniscus that is removed/shaved away during surgery. Your orthopedist will most likely recommend that you start taking some glucosamine to help rebuild and strengthen the cartilage/meniscus in the joint and begin some physical therapy to maintain muscle tone and range of motion during your recovery.

Unfortunately, knee injuries like this generally result (long term) in what is called DJD (degenerative joint disease). But that should be a ways off for you. In the meantime, where the meniscus is removed you will essentially be "bone-on-bone" in terms of the joint space. That, in and of itself, could make hiking somewhat painful. But it is very likely that with proper rehab, glucosamine and some form of knee brace you will be able to return to backpacking at some point.

Every case is different and I'm not trying to diagnose yours or give you false hope or cause for concern on the opposite end. Get that second opinion, as suggested in another post and then work closely with the orthopedist of your choosing. Be certain and let him/her know that your plan is to return to backpacking/hiking.

Best of luck and happy trails ...

AT 2003