Sunday, March 31, 2013

Oh, the pain of a torn meniscus, not once but twice. My first experience occurred in 2005 with my left knee. It is the type of injury that may not always be evident at the time of an injury. Mine wasn’t, even though I do think stretching the wrong way while up on a ladder painting, caused the meniscus tear. The pain upon walking was quite bad, driving (my car has a stick shift), certain positions sleeping, etc. After a week of pain, I went to my GP and he ordered a MRI. This confirmed the tear and I was referred to an orthopedic doctor.
Before my visit, I researched the condition and found some treatments I would and wouldn’t do. A lot of what I learned wasn’t very hopeful for the main fact that the meniscus only has a blood supply on its outer ¼ area. If the tear occurs there, a surgical repair is most likely successful. But if a tear happens in the non vascular area, usually arthroscopic surgery will be performed. This procedure cleans away any shaggy cartilage to offer pain releif. Though once cartilage is removed, it doesn’t grow back. Most people who have this done, will be candidates for knee replacements about 10 years down the road so this was not an acceptable procedure for me. But I did consider a treatment such as implanting cartilage cells which have been harvested from your own knee, cultured and multiplied. Only it wasn't covered by my medical insurance and is quite costly. The day of my orthopedic exam proved very disappointing. After looking over my MRI report, the doctor dismissed trying to repair the tear because of my age and then mentioned the arthroscopic surgery as a solution. I said thanks, but no thanks. He wasn’t very happy with me and wanted to send me on my way with a prescription for pain pills and an anti inflammatory. I pushed a little further and asked if I could have physical therapy or if there were exercises that might be helpful. He told me a few exercises to do lying on the bed to strengthen the ligaments around the knee and sent me on my way. Instead of filling the prescriptions, I started taking Jarrow Formulas MSM 4 times a day, used a
topical cream Natrol MSM & Glucosamine Crème and exercised my knee. After about one month, improvement was evident and I was hopeful. Another couple months passed and most of the pain was gone, just one spot remained tender to the touch.
Four years went by and the torn meniscus in my left knee was just a memory until, I tore the meniscus in my right knee! This time the MRI showed it was much worse than my left knee had been. Armed with my past experience, I was again off to an orthopedic visit. This time, I was pleasantly surprised by the doctor’s response. At first, he started to tell me the extent of the tear and damage, not sounding very hopeful. But then, he looked at me saying, “You look like the kind of person who takes care of herself, so I’m going to tell you some natural treatments to try”. First on the list was a stationary bike, two times a day for ten minutes. He explained to have it set on the least resistance and that it doesn’t put any pressure on the knee but instead acts to wear down the jagged edges of the cartilage much like the ocean making a rough rock smooth. Next, keep the area warm, especially in cold weather. To this day, I wear leg warmers under my sweats or jeans until I am too hot to keep them on. Lastly, take glucosamine and chondroitin every day. He himself has been taking the supplements for years, had a torn meniscus and did not have arthroscopic surgery! This was such a positive, natural approach and gave me just the right direction to head in.
I had already been taking Doctor's Best Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM for years but read through a book called, The Arthritis Cure then found my dosage was incorrect. My caps were spaced out 2 or 3 times a day. Instead, it is important to take the full amount at the same time once a day. The book states, “The general dose for an adult is 1,500mg of glucosamine and 1,200mg of chondroitin once daily, with or without food.” 

Also in the book is a product discussed
called ASU, derived from avocados and soy beans. This was added to my regimen, purchased from Dr. Theo's website I recommend the book highly for its information on osteoarthritis. After only one month, my knee was greatly improved and when I was pain free a few months later, I wrote the orthopedic doctor a letter on my progress and thanked him for this wonderful approach to healing a torn meniscus.
While recovering from my second bout with a torn meniscus, I made a promise to myself. Not if, but when my knee was pain free, I would be forever grateful just to go for walks again. That happened, my walks have increased, along with yoga and activities and I am still, forever grateful. 
November 1, 2018
My most recent post discussed dealing with the pain from a torn hip labrum which I feel, is quite like a torn meniscus. They are both a kind of cushion in the joints and both can sustain tears. I dealt with the pain for over 2 1/2 years until it was finally diagnosed this past July and my course of action became very similar to healing my torn meniscus years ago. 
I wanted to add the information to this post because of what helped me get through some very tough times with pain. First was a TENS unit, Endurance Therapeutics Aurawave TENS Unit Machine/Muscle Stimulator for Pain Management which was wonderful for easing some of the discomfort and helping with tight muscles from my lower back through my thighs. It still helps me anytime I feel somewhere tight or hurting on my body and have used it from my shoulders to my knees and lower legs. While there are many different kinds, this one has been great for me. It doesn't need to be plugged in, runs on batteries, so it can be helping me when I am up and busy or sitting.
While the TENS was a good tool for natural pain relief, in April I decided to purchase a Quell unit which was advertised on TV and magazines, 
  Quell Wearable Pain Relief Technology Starter Kit It is an amazing product that offers pain relief throughout the body and is just worn on either calf. Being rechargeable, no batteries are involved and the intensity can be adjusted. It automatically goes on for an hour, then off for an hour all day long and can even be worn at night. Happily my torn labrum has improved so much that I don't need the TENS or Quell every day. But if I am having a rough day or have overdone physical activity, my natural pain relievers are there for me. 
But please note that the signals from these devices, both the TENS and Quell, can interfere with the normal operation of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). It is best to consult with your physician if you have any kind of implants.
Also remember that while you may experience pain relief as I have, please don't overdue activity and possibly hinder the healing process of your torn meniscus.


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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.
© 2013

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is so good to know that a torn meniscus can heal without surgery. Thanks