How Long After Meniscus Surgery Can I Run (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 8-12 Weeks

Meniscus surgery is also known as “Arthroscopic Meniscus Repair.” It is a medical surgery that is done to repair a torn cartilage in the knee. It is done by minimally invasive techniques and physical therapy is recommended for regaining the full function of the knee.

A person can know they have a torn cartilage when there is pain and swelling in the knee around the region of the torn cartilage. The pain would increase with physical activities like squatting. The tears can be removed with some techniques like meniscus removal, meniscus replacement, and meniscus repair. The surgery is highly successful if gotten done by the right hands.

How Long After Meniscus Surgery Can I Run?

There is one meniscus each outside and inside of the two knees and is made up of what is known as fibrocartilage. It serves as a shock absorber between the two bones of thigh and shin. Even though the meniscus is not made up of nerves, tearing of it can cause degrees of pain in the knee.

Meniscal tears are fairly common amongst athletes. It can also be seen in old people as a result of degeneration.

Most kinds of meniscus injuries are treated with non-surgical methods like resting and active exercises. The reason for the same is that the meniscus surgeries if taken by a young person, would result later in swelling of the knee and persistent instability. This could later give rise to degenerative arthritis which leads to a knee replacement surgery in some cases.

In athletes, the meniscus tear is usually a sign of overuse. A small meniscus tear might not even show any symptoms other than being visible in the scan.

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However, in runners, if the tear is major and is showing symptoms and making them unable to run, surgery might be necessary after all. The most recommended way to go would be a non-surgical method like physical therapy or even wearing a brace. If physical therapy shows to be not working, arthroscopic surgery is recommended which either stitches or removes the torn part.

The rest is necessary after the surgery because the meniscus muscle often has a low blood supply and needs to heal properly, even the surgery which stitches the torn piece back together needs rest to heal.

Type Of MethodStages Involved
Non-SurgicalPhysical Therapy, Wearing a Brace
SurgicalSurgery, Rest, Physical Therapy

Why Can I Run 8-12 Weeks After Meniscus Surgery?

Meniscus surgery aims to either remove the torn part or stitch it back together, both of which would require rest later for healing. As the meniscus in the knee has a limited blood supply, it takes longer for it to heal. The knee must also heal completely before the person gets back to walking, and so running would take an even longer time.

A person can start walking after a week or two of the surgery which is a part of the physical therapy. Physical therapy is highly recommended after meniscus surgery to avoid having certain conditions in the future like degenerative arthritis, which would need a knee replacement surgery in unusual cases.

A person can start running within 2 to 3 months of the surgery; however, the marathon runners would need to go back to practicing which could take longer for them to run in their fields.

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The reason it takes 8-10 weeks to get back to running after a meniscus surgery is that the knee would not be able to take a lot of pressure which is required in running all at once. It takes time and would require small steps starting from walking to get back the full strength of the knee. Physical therapy does just that, starting from reducing the swelling in the knee, to getting on weight-bearing like walking with crunches and eventually without them.

Further, it goes on to riding a straight bicycle, hamstring stretch, mini squats, and eventually running. The professional runners would receive their usual training after this which would regain their strength which is needed in the professional space.

Conclusion

The meniscus is present in each knee, one on the inside and one outside of it. It is made up of fibrocartilage and acts as a shock absorber between the bones of the thigh and shin.

A meniscus tear is common amongst athletes and old people. In athletes, it is a sign of overuse. It is usually preferred that the tear is repaired through non-surgical methods like physical therapy or wearing a brace.

However, if a surgery is done, proper rest is required afterward which means an athlete can get back to running after 8-10 weeks of the surgery with proper rest and physical therapy done in that period.

References

  1. https://orthop.washington.edu/patient-care/articles/sports/arthroscopic-meniscus-repair.html#:~:text=Arthroscopic%20meniscus%20repair%20is%20an,postoperative%20protection%20to%20allow%20healing.
  2. https://www.hss.edu/playbook/should-marathon-runners-get-surgery-for-a-torn-meniscus/
  3. https://www.massgeneral.org/assets/MGH/pdf/orthopaedics/sports-medicine/physical-therapy/rehabilitation-protocol-for-meniscus-repair.pdf
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