It’s now confirmed: I have a torn medial meniscus that requires surgery. The debris poses a medium-term risk to the integrity of the knee, and Dr. Connell recommends cleaning up the knee by the end of the year, at the latest. He did not leave open a medical option for wait-and-see. The arthroscopic surgery is an outpatient procedure and requires three days of post-operative rest at home. It would then mean 4-6 weeks of recovery and physical therapy before taking up physical exercise. I could expect full recovery within three months.
Curiously, my knee was feeling fine today, with no pain or stiffness, so the news surprised me because I was imagining that I was recovering. If I had felt like this last week, I would never have gone to a doctor. The main problem of the meniscus is that it does not heal. It’s a piece of cartilage that has no blood flow, and once it gets torn it becomes a piece of debris that can mess up the rest of the knee. Some people actually have their knees lock up on them because the meniscus moves between the bones and impedes movements.
But Dr Connell is in the business of solving problems by surgery so he has a professional, business and scientific bias to using surgery to fix injuries. He does have a reputation for not automatically prescribing surgery, which was one of my reasons for consulting him.
I already had an appointment with Kelly Welch, my acupuncturist, and so I asked him about the best course of action. He suggested waiting to see how my knee felt. He’s had problems with both knees, at least one of them due to overaggressiveness in yoga poses. His biggest reservation about operating is that once part of the meniscus is removed, the knee can never return to its normal state.
He advised against future running because it put so much stress on the knee, even with the best technique. That’s a kind of hypothetical questions because I don’t have enough confidence to even jog. We closed out the session with acupuncture and electrical stimulus to the knee (so he’s got a professional bias, too).