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Sprained knee and torn meniscus

VickiPVickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in General Health

I hurt my knee about four weeks ago, it is an old injury that I seem to re-injure from time to time. It was not getting well so I went in for a MRI which showed the sprain and the torn meniscus. It has improved and stabilized but still is painful. I have been referred to an ortho. I don't like orthopedic surgeons. I researched these conditions and I have been doing all the recommended home treatments, ice, elevation doing nothing that involves twisting, jumping etc. I was wondering if anyone here has treated a bum knee with success avoiding steroids and or surgery? I would be fine with therapy.



  • lmrebertlmrebert Posts: 363 ✭✭✭✭

    I made a salve with comfrey leaf and root with St Johns Wort with frankincense and lavender. My son in law used it for his bum knee and it improved. He’s not one to have faith in my natural remedies but after that he’s a believer

  • VickiPVickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for your response. I didn't mention it in the above question, but I did make a salve with comfrey, lavender and chamomile. It has helped some, and I also use a cbd salve. Maybe I should apply them more often, or get some st johns wort and frankincense to add to it. I think the sprain is getting better not sure about the tear. I just want to have a good alternative to surgery if that is what the Ortho suggests. I am in my sixties so I don't heal up like I used to. 😑

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,887 admin

    I think you are right with the idea of applying more often. I have used a straight comfrey salve with a lot of success as well as CBD. You might also want to consider taking Rhodiola rosea (aka Golden Root or Arctic Root). It is an adaptogen but has become quite popular with athletes as it improves endurance and speeds recovery time from injury or overuse.

  • VickiPVickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    Thank-you @torey, I am going to order some herbs today it sounds like Golden Root is worth trying. It is new to me so when you say "taking" do you mean as a tea? Or would capsules or a tincture be better?

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,874 admin

    @VickiP I have torn meniscus in both knees and a cyst in the one. I have had this, off & on repeatedly, since I was 19 (25+ years ago). My family made fun of me and believed it was all in my head (that was consistently how they treated me...very belittling). I knew differently. I didn't have an MRI until in my 40s to prove that it was something. I am not sure how it first appeared except that I was walking in a beautiful shallow creek with friends when I experienced sharp pain & could no longer walk.

    Walking was close to non-existent this last time. Stairs were impossible. Squatting, etc. was not an option. Everything hurt them. Time babying it, not doing much to stress the area, makes a difference each time. How I hated my knee brace. It didn't help at all!

    A few years ago, surgery was an option, but I won't go there. Don't do surgery unless you want osteoarthritis. It is common to develop this post surgery. In my mind, swapping out one for the other improves nothing.

    Stairs are not good, especially if carrying extra weight (boxes, full wet laundry baskets) and of course, twisting, running nor jumping as you stated.

    I tried enhanced (added a few extra herbs after researching) bone broth with no noticeable improvement. It may have contributed, but I am convinced that it isn't what healed it as I wasn't consistent and blood flow to the meniscus is extremely minimal. I will need to check into these herbs again to see why I specifically chose them.

    I did use topical magnesium as it is an important mineral for healing.

    Ice is not good to use. You want as much blood flow to the area as possible, even though there is very little that reaches the area. Inflammation isn't always bad. A topical salve is best as you are discussing. I have not had it show again since I have been delving more into herbs.

    I am now considering taking a preventative approach by using a salve and possibly seeing if there are exercises to strengthen the supporting muscles around the knee area.

    I want to include herbs that will enhance blood flow, and some known to repair ligaments & cartilage. I would continue to use these things daily even after it is healed to support strength.

    I am watching this thread with interest as I have found little help from other sources.

  • VickiPVickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    @Laurie I actually feel your pain! My knee was injured over fifty years ago in a car wreck and has flared up off and on since then. It has always calmed down with standard home care until now. I'm guessing just the accumulated fifty years of injury. It is very frustrating, I have an event next weekend I don't want to miss but it is several hours of driving to and from and many hours of standing and sitting in chairs not meant for comfort. I honestly don't think I can manage it. I have tried wrapping it when I have to be out and about but I have bilateral edema that makes my entire leg swell and throb with any kind of restriction. I may look at some braces to see if I can find one that will work. As for ice, I have used it as part of the standard home care routine. I can't tolerate actual ice so I use a cold gel pack or a frozen washcloth for short amts of time. I do like the way mild heat feels. The swelling around my knee has gone down some, but the lateral swelling is still there. To add to the mix I had a wisdom tooth extracted yesterday, that isn't a problem but every single time I go to the dentist I get physically ill within 8-10 hours and it last a couple of days. So I have to keep getting up and down to take care of that situation. No rest for the weary I guess.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,874 admin

    @VickiP I would certainly give you my brace if I could. I wore it very little and can't see how It would be beneficial in the future, for me at least. It is an expensive brace ($800) and I would rather see it used than just sitting there. It is for a right leg.

  • VickiPVickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    @Laurie what a nice offer! I would gladly take you up on it, but my problem is the left leg. I am curious, you say it didn't benefit you did it cause any pain or was it just ineffective? I don't want to spend a fortune on devices that may even make it worse and I do have fibromyalgia which makes things hurt me that wouldn't bother others.

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,887 admin

    @VickiP You can take Rhodiola in tea, tincture or pill form. I have never had the tea but have heard it is quite nice with a bit of honey. Pills have the benefit of a standardised dose and seem to be the most readily available at most stores. There are many benefits to Rhodiola including anti-aging (you mentioned that you don't heal up like you used to).

    Turmeric has many clinical studies showing its usefulness as an anti-inflammatory. It can be taken internally or used topically.

    This is a link to a National Geographic Article on Rhodiola: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/food/the-plate/2016/08/long-before-doping-scandals--russians-were-studying-performance-/

    And another link to a very technical report on Rhodiola: https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/herbal-report/final-assessment-report-rhodiola-rosea_en.pdf

  • VickiPVickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    @torey I enjoyed the Nat Geo article very much. It will take me awhile to get through the technical report. As far as anti ageing I think it would require a continuous IV feed to help there LOL. It is an interesting herb and is new to me. I think I will try one of the products from Amazon. I take fire cider daily and I made it to include quite a bit of Turmeric and black peppercorn so hopefully it will help with this as well.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,874 admin

    @VickiP It was ineffective...for me. It might work for others. There was a better one available, allowing for more movement, but I was just too short. The idea is to stretch the space in the knee slightly to help relieve pressure. It needed to be adjusted for my use from its factory setting (plastic parts warmed to bend, etc), but could be re-adjusted for anyone else.

  • judsoncarroll4judsoncarroll4 Posts: 3,484 admin

    Well, here is how I treated myself... Last year, almost on this very day, I severely injured my knee. I was carrying around 400lbs and stepped down funny from a height. My right knee bent... sideways, almost in half. So, severe dislocation. I fell to the ground and snapped it back into place. Having dislocated my shoulder a few times, I knew what was going on and put the joint back in place before the pain hit.... you really can't do it on your own after that point. I tried to stand, but my knee would buckle and try to slip out again if I put any weight on it. Fortunately, a neighbor was passing who had a spare cane. Being self-employed, I haven't had insurance since Obama-care passed (no affordable options and I will not take a subsidy). So, I can't tell you everything that was torn up in there... but I can tell you that my knee swelled up to about the size of a volley ball and turned black. And, as always, I had to treat myself. A friend blew out his knee about the same time and went to doctors - surgery, pills, braces, physical therapy... in desperation he tried my natural remedies because modern medicine was not working, at all. He was amazed by the results of natural medicine and is fine now. My knee still gets a little swollen and stiff - slight twinge now and then, but I'm back to walking over a mile a day and squatting around 250 in the gym.... maybe in another year or so, I can get back to my college lifting weight.

    So, I started applying a comfrey salve almost immediately. For pain, I just took aspirin and red wine. For inflammation, I took turmeric, black pepper, vit C and fish oil. A supplement containing hyaluronic acid, collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin seems to help, too. Regular stretching. Plenty of meat, fats and fresh veggies... bone broth when possible. Not much sugar, at all. And Qigong.... great stuff, and if you can stand at all, I highly recommend the Zahn Zhuang style.... give it 10 min a day for a couple of weeks... it will surprise you even if you don't believe in such. A cup of kombucha on an empty stomach each morning also seems to really help with joints - I swear by the stuff!

    This worked pretty well for me - regardless, it takes a severe injury to a weight bearing joint a long time to heal. I guess I'm 95% recovered. My friend who dumped his doctors and switched to the above was absolutely blown away by how much more effective the natural way is. He is in the woods right now, hunting and will be trapping all winter - he didn't think that would be possible.

  • Obiora EObiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    @VickiP kiP I have tendinitis in my left knee and was hit by a truck while walking across the street when I was 16. I was given exercises for my knee during Physical Therapy from the tendinitis.

    I am still healing from getting hit by the truck and have flare ups from time to time. I do try to drink plenty of fluids (primarily water), stretch and strengthen my knees, and sometimes lubricate my knees. For the lubrication I was told that I could boil Spring or de-chlorinated water and then melt Ghee and drink. Then the next morning drink a glass of Spring or de-chlorinated water with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

    I have also made a Comfrey salve and have used it on my knee from time. My father recounted the story about him helping to heal the compound fracture in my dog's leg when I was in elementary. He made a poultice of Comfrey, Boneset, Plaintain, and I think something else (I don't recall right now). He also gave my dog herbs to take internally and they may have been the same.

    Hope that some of this helps.

  • VickiPVickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    Wow everybody! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and remedies, it is a lot to look into but it looks like Comfrey is a go to for most. As well as fluids and some form of mindful movement. I am definitely going to learn some of the unfamiliar herbs and how they work with my body, I had actually forgotten about glucosamine and chondroitin, we used to buy it in big buckets from a vet supply company for my husband's arthritis. I just took a membership in a gym that has a year round pool I thought I could go ahead and start water exercises that wouldn't cause any pain. I have been trying to get back into walking but it is almost too much. Thanks again

  • merlin44merlin44 Posts: 425 ✭✭✭✭

    @judsoncarroll4 WOW 400 lbs, and you can walk-impressive!

  • judsoncarroll4judsoncarroll4 Posts: 3,484 admin

    Only if stupidity is impressive.... that was a really, really dumb move and I won't make that mistake twice!

  • merlin44merlin44 Posts: 425 ✭✭✭✭

    @judsoncarroll4 The fact that you recovered enough to walk past the damage that weight must have done is impressive. I won't comment on the act itself LOL.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,874 admin

    @VickiP I was told to ride a bike or swim in a pool as It is not weight bearing. This was in the dead of winter and I am also 45 minutes from the closest indoor pool, so, neither were options at the time.

  • VickiPVickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Laurie I just started some water exercises today. The gym is about 7 miles from my house so that is what I am doing. I actually can't swim yet, if I move my leg just wrong it hurts pretty bad so I am water walking right now. I have no idea if it will help but I did enjoy being in the pool.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,874 admin

    @VickiP It will certainly help. It is movement with less pressure put on the knee. I am cheering for you!

  • jjoceanjjocean Posts: 31 ✭✭✭

    A torn meniscus as viewed on an MRI generally won't heal (as in the meniscus becomes un-torn) that said there is very little harm in living with the symptoms. Pain relieving salves are great and while they keep the inflammation down the torn part of your cartilage remains torn. The torn tissue has no blood supply so it is virtually impossible to heal itself. There is no real downside to avoiding surgery except that the knee will continue to flair up from time to time. I had the same injury and the treatment that worked the best was physical therapy. You can pay someone to help you or you can look up the exercises yourself. We all have a tendency to favor using the front muscles of the thigh to walk, run, stand up from sitting, and lifting. The key is to unload those muscles a bit by incorporating the gluteals (the ole butt) in all your movement. Further development of your core muscles (behind your belly button) will also help. These drills and exercises are a lifelong commitment. Stretching (inner hip, gluteals, hamstrings and calves) will also help. I used an essential oil blend of Basil, marjoram, wintergreen, lavender, peppermint, Helichrysum gymnocephalum, Helichrysum Italicum, Roman Chamomile, clove bud, Copaiba balm and cypress in a carrier blend of coconut and a touch of beeswax (smallest canning jar and 8 grams of beeswax melted together with about 60 drops of the essential oil blend and 10 drops of Copaiba). Very relieving (If I'm feeling especial sore I'll add some drops to the salve - that warms it up nice).

    With all that and plenty of time (a year) I still wasn't happy with my knee. I still favored it and it couldn't be relied on for raising up with a load or back packing or many of the things I do daily. I couldn't squat on my haunches anymore and this caused my back to ache when working on the ground. sooooo. Since I was in the biz for years I decided on arthroscopy (The scope). The trick is (and I'll deny having said it) if you go that route, is to realize you're trading your chronic injury for what amounts to to or three stab wounds to the knee. I was never stabbed in the knee but it is bound to change that knee a bit forever. Not every orthopedic doctor that does this is good at it. If the scope bumps your smooth knee cartilage or gets jammed between shin and thigh bone during surgery the long term results will likely result in worse degenerative disease and pain. Or if the torn piece of meniscus is not completely removed you get all the same pain plus the stab wounds.

    How do you know who is an artist with the scope? Find a nurse who works in the operating room and ask them who they would have to do the surgery on themselves. I had the surgery and can sit my butt on my heels as long as I want and still stand up without using a hand. I'm 68 for reference. I still do the exercises, I like the salve (elbows hurt but that's a different story), and I stretch religiously.

    To sum up. A real live torn meniscus will likely be your friend forever but there are options to make it better. If you do the core and butt exercises it will be much better. If you have a bad surgery it may get worse. Tough choice. My wife had terrible results from the scope (wrong doc) and is much worse. I am as good as I ever was and glad I did it.

  • VickiPVickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    Thank-you for that analysis of the situation. Excellent observations and advice. When I picked up a copy of my MRI it told me what I already knew every injury was "Chronic." It said the tear is small and complex and I have lesions deep in the ligament. But the bone is intact as are the bulk muscles. So my take away is that therapy is the best option as well as pain relief. It did note some cartilage damage (osteoarthritis) But nothing was catastrophic.

    I started water walking yesterday and last night I had quite a bit of pain, I think I will alternate water walking days with land walking days for now and once I am past the worst, the gym I go to has several water exercise classes for strength training and arthritis control. I think this is what I will do in lieu of official physical therapy as it will be the most cost effective for me.

    We have been having some amazing weather, perfect for cleaning up our trails and getting out into the woods, that will encourage me to get out there, carefully walk through the pain and enjoy the experience.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,874 admin

    @jjocean I will have to respectfully disagree that a torn meniscus (as seen on an MRI) can't heal. I have learned that it depends on the type & severity (I am unaware of the type @VickiP has...mine is medial meniscus). The outer area of the meniscus has blood flow, the inner does not. Also, degenerative meniscus is not known to heal according to conventional beliefs. Mine was certainly not degenerative at 19 years of age. I don't believe that it is at my current age either, rather just a re/new injury when I do something that I should not do in a certain way (such as twist).

    This link has an orthopedic surgeon's opinion on meniscus tears:

    And another link:

    Core & glute exercises are recommended, but I would be very careful which core exercises are chosen as some commonly used exercises have been proven to not be effective core exercises (sit ups, crunches) and some can be dangerous (sit ups, crunches, plank & other popular "core" exercises) and cause/contribute to other health issues (such as pelvic organ prolapse..."POP", which can happen in males too and at any age, teen & older). A very gentle and effective core exercise is hip circles (but this can be difficult/impossible with a tear).

    Squats & lunges build glutes most effectively (but can put too much pressure on the knee). As much as these put too much pressure on the knee, these are some of the best ways to improve POP, along with walking/swimming.

    Of interest to the subject of repairing cartilage, there are herbs available that can repair it, along with blood circulation herbs.

    To add to this again, I had a cousin who, through body punishing work & dealing with training spirited horses, wore out her cartilage in her arm and leg joints. She essentially had bone on bone. It was pretty much body wide. She was in intense pain, could hardly move, and the only conventional solution would have been surgery. She went to a guy who practiced a form of accupressure. She went daily for over a year or more...at great expense (even at a reduced rate). She healed fully with no pain many years ago and since healing, went into the same field (taught by this guy). She performed wonders on people and it was a great testament to the natural healing world's effectiveness when the conventional system tells you that there is no hope but surgery.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,874 admin
    edited November 2019

    I looked up exercises for repairing meniscus. I was relieved to see that squats & lunges can be done after a certain stage. Very good, as I believe these are super important for pelvic health.

    I had never gone to a physiotherapist because by the time I finally saw the surgeon (2 years after I could hardly walk & my one knee sometimes locked), my meniscus had healed very well and I was not having any issues. He suggested PT (It would have been surgery if I had understood what "locking" was at the time).

    I had other related concerns about going/not going to physio at that time. I wish that I had followed up anyway (one concern was expense). Some of my other concerns (some based on past PT experience) may have not been an issue in the end for this problem and my knees may have developed stronger surrounding muscle support to prevent re-injury. I will try to use these suggestions below (2 links) moving forward as I can see these as being very beneficial to prevent future injury.

  • VickiPVickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    @Laurie nice links, thanks again. I checked the MRI report and I have "a small complex shaped tear involving the medial meniscus posterior horn." It "...appears to touch or approach the inferior meniscal surface, without displacement or flipped fragment. The lateral meniscus is normal." There are several other abnormalities, sprains etc. I agree that surgery is not an option for me for several reasons. Right now walking on land and in sea is the best choice. As I regain stability I will be incorporating water weights and deep water exercises that are designed to improve core strength, these are guided sessions that are included with my gym membership at no further cost to me, right now that is necessary. I can't do lunges or squats for other reasons and haven't been able to for a long time. However I can do stretches and gentle movements that I think I can add ankle weights to as I improve. I haven't given up on healing, but it will be a long process if it happens at all, in the mean time I am sure I can improve my situation with herbs, exercise, fluids and rest. Thanks again for your encouragement and for the links.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,874 admin

    @VickiP Excellent. I am glad that you are positive and willing to be patient. Healing meniscus takes a lot of patience and surgery often brings more problems than its worth.

    It is good to keep moving! 👏😉

  • SuperCSuperC Cook at Wahlburgers The Frozen Tundra in the Northern MidwestPosts: 371 ✭✭✭

    Perhaps doing physical therapy movements and getting rest is necessary. Or, use a rolling pin in a seated position, roll it starting from your thigh towards your knee to massage the tendons that may be all full of knots.

  • VickiPVickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    I had read about "rolling" the leg, I haven't tried it yet but may look into it further. Thanks

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,874 admin

    @teachercaryn That sounds fascinating...kind of like working the knots/scar tissue out from along meridian lines. This is part of what my cousin did for others with her hands, elbows and such.

    I, too, will have to look into that.

  • jjoceanjjocean Posts: 31 ✭✭✭

    @Laurie thanks for your comments. I’m happy to accept than some tears could heal however most will not. That’s not to say they won’t get better or even “heal” with fibrocartilage which is not meniscsal tissue. Worn out chondrocartilage such as found on the ends of the bones is different enough from the meniscus as to warrant a different thread.

    The area of the meniscus with blood supply is much thicker and less prone to tear.

    You are spot on that abdominal exercises are poor core exercises. Butt ups done properly are much better There is plenty on line showing the proper way. Lunges not so great for a damaged knee.

    Being 19 with an athletic tear is a different beast than for someone past their 60th.

    Might as we’ll toss out the obvious need to be of the appropriate weight for optimum non surgical results. To clarify my post, conservative treatment has only one unfavorable outcome while surgery has several. Peace.

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