Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Developer and Java Champion. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

Bad Knee

The first time I went skiing this season (back in mid-December), I had a lot of pain in my left knee. It hurt tremendously when I'd get on and off the lift. It seemed to be caused by bending it. I tried skiing a bump run in the afternoon, but that hurt even worse and it took me about 30 minutes to work my way down Drunken Frenchman at Mary Jane. The next week, I went to the doctor and he said it looks like I have a cartilage tear. He said I could relax and reduce my activities for a month and I'd have a 50/50 chance of having to have surgery (notice that he didn't say should). Apparently, the surgery is pretty minor and I could be back in action in a week or so.

The rest of December, I stuck to blues and my knee quit bothering me so much. Even the powder day at Steamboat wasn't too bad. Earlier this week, I was able to ski 7 runs in 2 hours at Mary Jane - 5 of those being bump runs. So am I back in action w/o surgery? No, not really. I am able to ski blacks w/o too much pain, but afterwards it does tend to be pretty sore. Same thing after riding my bike to work or playing basketball.

What would you do? This is turning out to be one of the best ski seasons ever and I feel like I'm at 80% of where I could be w/o the torn cartilage. I feel like I can make it a couple more months, have surgery in March and be ready for mountain bike season in April. Am I putting my knee in grave danger or is it just a matter of handling the pain at this point?

Posted in General at Jan 11 2008, 11:27:07 AM MST 7 Comments


Depending on what is actually torn you could probably make it through the season. There is some risk to that--What kind of Dr did you go to? X-Ray, MRI??

When you injure yourself in your hip/knee/ankle/foot you start to compensate for it (most of the time you don't even notice it) You normal range of motion is limited so you will start to change your body mechanics and then can lead to injuring youself further (and not just in your bad knee). Google Deion Sanders and turf toe to see how compensating for that injury led to hamstring problems from altered body mechanics.

Put surgery off- risk further injury or possiblly another ie. ACL/MCL

Surgery - Get it out of the way, get it fixed/rehab and not have to half ass it all season.


Posted by CMH on January 11, 2008 at 07:27 PM MST #

Everyone I know who has needed knee surgery all said they should have done it sooner rather then later. Most of these people had it done later on in life when the damage was then severe. Recovery time is quicker the younger you are and why suffer the pain for years if you don't have to. Get it done before it worsens and follow up with all recovery physical therapy working very hard at recovery.

Posted by James on January 11, 2008 at 08:50 PM MST #

Get it taken care of immediately and stop screwing around. I am speaking from experience and paying for my mistake now.

I have torn both my ACLs playing football. Nothing glamorous like high school or college, just playing tackle football with friends and without protection on one occasion and playing flag football on another.

The first ACL to go was my left. When it happened I felt something snap and then I fell to the ground. I was able to hobble around on it for a day and then it seemed to be fine after a few days. After a month all pain seemed to be gone. Over the next couple of years I kept re-injuring it and each time it took longer for the knee to feel better. I finally needed to get a repair after getting a bucket handle tear that had flipped in and would not flip back out. Talk about pain. I did recover rather quickly after surgery. The doctors encouraged me to start walking right away and start light exercises and then run when I could, which I did and all was well again. The doctor suspected that I had not initially completely torn the ACL but I had slowly worked on it until it tore completely.

The worst of the 2 ACLs injuries was my right and that is the one I am really paying for now. This one was while playing in a Nike flag football tournament. I zigged but my right leg zagged and broke. The odd thing about this injury was that it did not hurt. It turns out I had severed my ACL on that one and did no cartilage damage. Thinking I was okay, I continued playing the game. I had to stop playing because my knee keep popping out despite the brace I borrowed and the ace bandages wrapped around it.

Since there was no pain I continued running and biking and whatever. One fine day I was playing beach volleyball and jumped up to spike when my right knee bent inward and I fell to the ground in the worst pain I have ever felt. I was able to recover that day but still refused to go the doctor.

Months later I was playing basketball with my nephews and tried a lazy jump shot only to fall to the ground in pain yet again. You would think I would go to the doctor but I still did not.

It wasn't until that fateful day when I went to the fridge for a drink and did a slight pivot on my right leg while opening the fridge door only to find myself on the floor in extreme pain when I realize that something might be wrong with my knee. It turns out that I had another bucket handle tear that had flipped in and would not flip out. I could no put any weight on my leg and I could not straighten it either. This was about one month before my vacation to Jamaica.

I finally went to the doctor to find that my ACL was long gone and I had major cartilage damage. Unfortunately they would not operate before my trip so I went to Jamaica with crutches.

Now I only go in a straight line. If I run it is only a mile or two. I ride my mountain bike and I do body weight exercises, no more weight lifting. Things are okay as long as I try to watch how I move on my right leg but I am just waiting for the next injury as the knee always feels lose and there have been several times when it started to pop out but I was able to feel it and quickly take my weight off the leg.

In October I was replacing my roof. It took about 5 days to tear off the old and put on the new. On the last day my knee starting hurting from all of the bending. Now it just kind of aches here and there since then. I am worried that I tore my cartilage yet again.

So to quote Bart Simpson, "Don't do as Johnny Don't does!"

My name is Johnny Don't.

Posted by Samer Kanjo on January 11, 2008 at 09:35 PM MST #

First: I am not a doctor. Second: if I were in your shoes (or ski boots), I would back off from the skiing until your knee is healed or until you have recovered from surgery. You want to have healthy knees for the next 30-50 years. If the surgery will eliminate the pain, I'd look into it ASAP.

Posted by Anonymous Kincaid on January 12, 2008 at 12:06 AM MST #

Instead of real skiing you could try SkiChallenge 2008 ( :-) It even works with VMware Fusion.

Posted by Lars Fischer on January 12, 2008 at 11:15 PM MST #

May we ask what your weight and body size are?

Posted by on January 14, 2008 at 12:00 AM MST #

Hi Matt,

Looks like a Meniscus Tear. It starts off with a small pain in the knee and some swelling. It goes away once you relax the knee.

I had my surgery 6 months back and now I'm back to (almost)normal. In my case the cartilage was torn beyond repair so they had to remove quite a bit of it. They asked me not to stress the knee too much since it could advance the onset of arthritis.

Guess your doctor is the best person to advice you.

Take Care,


Posted by thomas on January 15, 2008 at 07:13 AM MST #

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