Repair of "large" Bucket Handle tear in Medial Meniscus?

by rhys
(phx, az)

I saw my doctor and had an MRI done last week. He called me and said I had a "large" (and he emphasized large) bucket handle tear of my medial meniscus. The injury occurred 4 weeks ago. At first i wasn't able to straighten my knee because the torn cartilage had folded up and into my knee joint. I can move it pretty freely now though.

From what i've read i know that they usually only repair tears in the red vascular zone. I believe my is torn beyond this point. I am guessing that if they chose to excise it they would be removing nearly half of my meniscus.

Since the tear is so large will they opt for the repair surgery? I'm 22 yrs old and very active and athletic. I don't want arthritis in my twenties!

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Oct 27, 2008
bucket handle tear
by: Bart - SII

Bucket handle tears are usually not repaired - they are longitudinal tears that have mobilized into the knee joint, and are usually located outside of the vascular red-red zone.

A meniscectomy is the likely surgery of choice for you, and although it will remove part of the meniscus, it will help reduce continued problems and it will prevent further tearing of the meniscus.

You will likely develop arthritis, but probably not in the near future - a knee surgery early in life means that you will have problems arthritic problems in your 50's or 60's instead of your 70's or 80's. A lot of it also depends on how active you are and how much wear and tear you put on your knees.


May 28, 2009
I know what your going through
by: Anonymous

I had the same bucket handle tear in my medial meniscus and a ruptured ACL back in mid 2006 (16 years old). I had a meniscectomy (they removed 65%) along with an ACL reconstruction. I'm still active...I notice no difference at all. I'm still very active and am even joining the Defence Force shortly. As the other person said: although we will get early onset arthritus it isn't something that's going to appear in the next 5- 10 years closer to 20 in fact. Just start taking glucosamine. And stay cool.

Jul 17, 2009
Good News for us

My 17 yo son had surgery Thursday for a bucket handle tear and they ended up removing 50% of his meniscus. We are very concerned about what this means for him later on. He's both a football and baseball player. This gives me hope that he can play ball and still walk when he's 30.

Jul 27, 2010
There is hope
by: Anonymous

I had medial meniscus tears and surgery on both knees in my teens. I learned to walk straight and not squat down on my heels. I will be seventy this fall and I am currently running daily and doing 5k's. Both hips have been resurfaced but my knees have no pain or other problem. Sure like to thank the surgeon from way back when.
Good luck with your repairs - hope they go as well as mine did.

Dec 03, 2010
You are not alone
by: Bucket-Handle

As you can see, many people have had this same injury. I sympathize with you, as I am currently experiencing the condition;; and, I will be having surgery in one week. Some of the things that have been said in response to your question are correct; and, others are not. This is what I have learned since sustaining this injury: It is far easier to harm yourself doing the simplest of things without prior preparation (i.e. stretching, warming up). It is a very long recovery time, regardless of your age (when it heals on the outside, it is NOT healed on the inside...when you think you are "all better" your AREN'T. Lastly, the advances that have been made in orthopaedics are incredible. My medial meniscus will be removed and replaced with that of a cadaver; and, I will be able to complete my military career. So, yes, it hurts; however, you are not doomed: take care of yourself and take it easy in your recovery (don't push it, one day at a time). Good luck :-)

Dec 23, 2010
My son is having surgery next week
by: Anonymous

My son (14yrs old) had an acl hamstring graft surgery Aug 2009 and has reinjured the same knee causing a bucket handle tear of the medial meniscus. The orthopaedic surgeon says it is 90% torn and he will need a meniscectomy to completely remove the meniscus as well as a 2nd acl graft (cadaver this time) to help support the existing hamstring graft he did in 2009 which is pretty "beat up". Has anyone had this done? What was the outcome after the complete meniscus removal? Any pain during activity? My son is very active in sports: football, basketball, track and I worry about the risk of him reinjuring it once he begins playing again.

Feb 07, 2011
To the guy named bucket-handle
by: Pete

I currently have this injury as well. It happened to me at boot camp and was able to push through. My symptoms are my knee feels fine usually, but the torn area will catch and cause my knee to lock and I can not straighten it. It happens when I squat low or twist in certain ways. I have become a master at un-locking the knee once this has happened, but I know this is not a sensible solution. I have recently began feeling achy in my knee (the injury happened in October of 2009 and I have been dealing with it since mainly because I have been in training schools non-stop since it happened and did not want to get recycled.) Now I am facing a deployment and looking for a little more relief until I return and can have it fixed in the approriate way. After some research I have read a little bit about prolotherapy. It claims to help speed up the recovery of the meniscus instead of removing it, thus helping prevent arthritis. I'm not sure if I am going to give this a try or not, surgery just isn't an option for me right now.

Sep 22, 2011
i have a tear
by: Anonymous

I am 15 years old and attend high school. I recently have hurt my knee. I went to the doctor today and they said i have a bucket handle tear. They are going to have surgery on it tomorrow. It has been a week prior to injury...please advise on the situation =[

Sep 23, 2011
To the 15 yr old
by: Anonymous

Hey I just found out today I'm having the surgery for the same thing u r having today. The Dr. Said he could just take it out or repair it and my ACL at the same time. Is that what u had done today. If so how did it go?

Oct 21, 2011
mom of 13 year old who had a meniscectomy

My 13 year old so had a meniscectomy (removal) of his meniscus. He had a bucket handle tear that was not repairable. Does anyone have info on the transplant? My son is an athlete and before this injury was on the fields every day. The orthoipaedic said he needs a meniscus transplant due to his activities if he doesn't get it he will have arthritis by the time he is 20. His surgeon does not do transplants and I have contacted offices of Doctors who do but they wont see my son for 6 months to a year. Help!

Oct 30, 2011
bucket handle tear
by: muhammad khalil

It seems to be a common problem i have buket handle tear & i m getting arthroscopy before eid ul azha.

May 05, 2012
Surger or No Surgery? NEW
by: Anonymous

Hello All,

I tore my lateral meniscus (bucket handle tear) with the posterior fragment flipped anteriorly ad small meniscal fragments remaining in the posterior compartment when I was 15 years old. I did not have surgery.

I am now 28, 13 years later. I had a new MRI recently and they said that it is still torn and that I have moderate arthritis, from my family doctor after the MRI. I went to the surgeon and he didn't seem concerned and said that it didn't look like arthritis. I'm not sure if this tear is in the Red or White zone. Is there a way to know? Are most of these types of tears located in either section? My kneed isn't normal, but I can still do activities and go about normal life for the most part. Can't squat too low though.

Should I have surgery to try to repair this? Is it likely that it'll work since it's been 13 years? Will letting it go cause me premature arthritis, even more so if I had a partial miscetomey, not sure of the spelling, haha.

Thank you!

Mar 21, 2013
large bucket handle tear of the medial meniscus NEW
by: sharon

I am a 41 yr old female currently off work with a large bucket handle meniscus tear, i did it by just getting up off of the floor, twisted wrong and the rip and pain was horrific. At first trying to straighten my leg was a no go and it took several weeks to get my leg partially straight, it still cant go fully straight now. Im 10 weeks into my injury and i have surgery planned in 4 weeks time. Does anyone now how long the healing process takes until i can use my leg fully again with no pain?

Mar 21, 2013
large bucket handle tear of the medial meniscus NEW
by: sharon

I am a 41 yr old female currently off work with a large bucket handle meniscus tear, i did it by just getting up off of the floor, twisted wrong and the rip and pain was horrific. At first trying to straighten my leg was a no go and it took several weeks to get my leg partially straight, it still cant go fully straight now. Im 10 weeks into my injury and i have surgery planned in 4 weeks time. Does anyone now how long the healing process takes until i can use my leg fully again with no pain?

Apr 25, 2013
Bucket tear NEW
by: Anonymous

I have a bucket tear! It sucks but i guess surgery is next! I have a question! will i still be able to run with it taken out?? also what does Probable anatomic variant of the acl mean?

Apr 25, 2013
Meniscetomy NEW
by: Anonymous

My son had a meniscectomy
last October he was 13
he. In November he was back to Soccer and running fine as if nothing ever happened. If they are able to repair it Dr said 6 months no sports.

Apr 28, 2013
Bucket Handle tear/meniscus NEW
by: Liz

To Sharon. The meniscus on my left knee (medial) tore Dec 18, 2012. Big pop....pain and a burning sensation. I could no longer extend my leg or bend my leg. I could only walk with the front part of my foot...not possible to use heel. I saw my family practitioner, my knee was very swollen so he ordered an MRI. I then went to an orthopedic surgeon. My surgery was scheduled for Feb. 28, 2013. What a very long time to endure hobbling around. I had to use a cane and my feet suffered very much as I have been diagnosed with congenital tarsal coalition (my feet). I have had pain in my feet since I was a child and this knee problem did not help whatsoever. I did have surgery, I wasn't sent to PT..I was given a sheet with 3 exercises. They failed to tell me to use lightweight ankle weights. So, that put me 2 wks behind. It has been 2 months now, and I still experience shooting pain in my knee and pain slightly above my knee. Also, pain down my calve and also in my foot. I think I have plantar fasciitis as a result of this. When I sit too long my leg hurts, if I lie down too leg hurts and if I take a's the same thing. I am hoping that the pain eventually subsides with time. Everyone always "knows" someone that has had this surgery and that they bounced back within a month.(I want to meet those people!) I did have a bucket handle tear in the meniscus and that evidently was the result of wear and tear. I am 59, not overweight but have always been active. I miss going to the gym and taking classes and using the machines. I was prescribed oxycodone, but I only use it occasionally...preferably at night. Plus, I will only take 1/2 of the tablet. Not crazy about meds. I hope, Sharon, that your surgery is successful and you will be pain free in no time. Be sure to use an ice pack after surgery. That really helps with the post-op swelling.

Nov 20, 2013
Treatment for 73 year old Hiker NEW
by: 73

I am 73 and while descending on a hike from Guadalupe Mt Peak, West Texas, the highest point in the State, my left knee went out on me three times even with a hikeing pole. Though even with my leg folding under me, I was able to get up and continue, though the knee got weaker after each fall.

I had meniscus scope done on the left side of the knee in 2008, the orthopedic doc, who has done surgery on Spurs BB players, said I had a knee of a 35 year old, at time was 68. Worked out well continued to do long hikes and jog. Two years later, 2010, I hurt the right side and went back to him. After evaluation, he said the tear was partial and to rehab it. He also said the knee had arthritis (no longer a 35 yr old knee?). Rehabbed it and no problems until the descent from Guad Peak.

He evaluated it, "Old Bucket Handle Tear of Medial Meniscus" and wanted me to rehab it for a month, and if the pain hasn't gone away, then steriod shots. Clicked some, but that went away after a few days. Due to cardiac concerns, I can't take NASAID drugs or cream for pain, have to rely on rest and exercises. I believe his main concern is not facilitating the onset of more arthritis, and keeping me off the trails, Grand Canyon hopefully in the spring?

In summary this gives you an approach with rehab the primary treatment with a someone in their 70's.

Mar 13, 2015
bucket handle meniscus tears NEW
by: Anonymous

Hi, I am a 79 year old lady and almost two months ago went to stand up and could hardly walk. Out of the blue. After two weeks of pain I saw a PA at the Orthopedic center and received a cortizone shot and a knee brace. Three weeks after that I had an MRI due to no relief. He called and set me up with the Surgeon for evaluation. Told me I had a torn Meniscus. I saw the surgeon yesterday and he is stumped because I didn't have some kind of injury like falling or twisting my leg. He said I had a very significant bucket handle tear. I am scheduled for surgery on the 25th of March. He did tell me that I also had a torn cartidge which he thought would repair itself, but he would know more after he got in there. Also warned me that there may be more wrong and this could lead to a full knee replacement down the road because of my age. It seems that Bucket tears are not common in older people, but younger people who have had a traumatic injury. This really concerned me and I am hoping now that I make out ok with no further complications. It was funny because I had just heard about one of the basketball players injuring his knee and needing surgery for a bucket handle tear. I had no idea there was different types of tears. Thank you all for letting me share and good luck to all who are going through this.

May 19, 2015
Medial Meniscus (bucket handle) tear NEW
by: Anonymous

I'm 49. A month and a half ago I tore my medial meniscus and my knee was stuck at about a 30 degree angle. I couldn't walk on it and had to keep it propped up. It took 2 1/2 weeks to be scheduled for surgery, and in that time the leg muscles atrophied. A large part of the meniscus was removed and other damage to the knee "cleaned up." I'm 3 weeks into PT, and other than a little better range of motion, my whole leg still locks up when I walk. My hip and knee don't seem to be able to work independently of each other. Hopefully that will resolve sooner rather than later. I've been told 6 weeks recovery time by various people, but I've also heard, which seems to be more accurate, in my case anyway, 8 to 12 weeks before I'm confident on the leg. I also get sharp twinges in the knee, and the lateral meniscus feels like it's moving around in there. I don't know if it's overworked trying to stabilize the knee with no cushioning on the other side or if it's just trying to "settle in" with the different structure of the knee or if it's normal for this sort of procedure. I was sent home with a prescription for Orthovisc if I'm still "uncomfortable" after I'm done with PT. I don't know what that does for locking of the joint though.

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