UPDATE: After good news – replacing bad news – about my knees earlier this week I ran four miles today with no pain. What a great Thanksgiving Day!
The meniscus is cartilage in the knee that acts as a shock absorber. Without it we have bone on bone. A torn meniscus is damage to the cartilage that causes pain and swelling.
I am a runner trying to cover 1,000-1,200 miles a year. (I have over 150 of my runs tracked by GPS with maps and pictures on EveryTrail.com here.)
Today the doctor told me a torn meniscus and I jumped up and praised the Lord. Why?
Well, on September 21st I was running in Krakow Poland when we were guiding our group there. I must have twisted my knee because that afternoon I was in severe pain and could hardly walk.
When I got home a few days later I went to a sports doctor who took x-rays and told me it was arthritis and my running days were over. No repairable damage, limiting and painful arthritis, and no more running.
After six weeks of pain I realized it could NOT be just arthritis since it came on so suddenly — my knees had felt great before. And why was it so painful I could hardly walk all of a sudden? So I called and requested an MRI suspecting it was a torn meniscus after reading a lot about it on the internet and talking to a friend Gail Buckley who was having the same problem.
Today the MRI was done. It was awful. I would not wish that experience on anyone. Thirty minutes of jackhammer noise in a claustrophobic “tunnel” without being able to move a muscle. Hope I never have to do that again.
The doctor looked at the MRI (see MRI picture below) and said, “No tear in the meniscus cartilage. Just arthritis.” I challenged him and insisted it must be something more. After I continued protesting he said, “I will send in my partner who is the knee surgeon.”
Ten minutes later the surgeon came in, looked at the x-rays and MRI and contradicted everything Doctor Number 1 had said — I did NOT have arthritis, there WAS a repairable tear in the meniscus and he could give me immediate temporary relief.
He inserted one needle to remove the fluid causing the swelling, and another to inject cortisone. Then he said “Keep cycling and running. If the pain continues after today’s shots come back in four weeks for a simple surgery to repair the tear.”
So, the torn meniscus is a blessing!! At least I know what it is and it can be corrected. I don’t have disabling arthritis — and I can continue running which I love so much (and which keeps me healthy as I get older). Blessed be God forever!
Second opinions are not a bad idea when it comes to medical situations! Thank you Lord!
(Pictures below: Leading a group of runners around Jerusalem, and actual MRI picture of my knee; Picture above: running with my son at home in Michigan)
For a detailed video about knees and torn meniscus’ see below.