Should I consider surgery after a meniscus injury?

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Question:

I am 65 year old female. I have a degenerative medial meniscus root tear. I have been seen by Orthopedic Surgeon. I have had two cortisone shots. I have been seeing a PT and faithfully doing exercises at home and Planet Fitness. I can straighten my leg and bend it fully. The severe pain comes when putting weight on leg and walking. I was trying to avoid surgery but wondering after five months of PT and shots if I should consider surgery. Mild arthritis weight 195 5’5” The pain is on the medial side. Also it seems femur hits tibia. MRI in October did not show bone on bone. I had a non displace tibia plateau stress fracture. I have been doing everything I am suppose to do. What is your advice?

Answer:

Without doing an examination, we’re not able to comment on your specific condition. However, we can offer some general advice that may be helpful.

Recovery from a meniscus injury can be a lengthy process, and it is difficult to predict what level of symptom relief can be expected from physical therapy and injections. Your history of a tibial stress fracture will also affect length of symptoms, as this can take several months to heal non surgically. Some factors that can affect the time frame for healing include age, length of previous symptoms, existing medical conditions, nutrition, smoking or alcohol use, and physical demands of work and daily life.

As far as considering the need for surgery, this would be an excellent topic to discuss with your physical therapist and orthopedic surgeon. Factors that your therapist and surgeon will consider include tolerance to your daily activities and how much your pain/symptoms are limiting you from reaching your goals. These considerations allow you, your therapist, and your surgeon to decide on the best direction to take your care.

Often times, activity modification is an important part of improving symptoms. If you find that you have long periods in the day where you are on your feet or up walking, breaking this up with sitting breaks can help decrease irritation in your knee. Alternating types of exercise can be beneficial at times as well. For example, pool therapy can be helpful as the water takes some of the weight off your knees. This allows you to build your strength and tolerance to weight bearing in a more comfortable position. Other forms of low impact exercise include biking or rowing.

For more specific advice we would suggest consulting with your physical therapist and surgeon about your current situation and potential changes to treatment if you are not satisfied with your current level of recovery.

Please note, this reply is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, physical therapist, or other qualified health provider with a medical condition.

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