I saw my primary care doctor for a follow-up about my knee, after getting MRI and x-ray results. The bump on my knee is fairly benign- there is a lateral meniscus tear which is allowing joint fluid to escape, causing a cyst. That explains why the size of the bump has waxed and waned over the past few weeks- it gets bigger when inflamed. The MRI also showed pretty extensive signs of osteoarthritis in the knee joint. So for now she wants me to ice it and elevate my legs when the bump gets larger, or I have any pain. Then I have a follow-up with my orthopedic Doc on Oct. 25. That will be interesting. Presumably, we can do minimally-invasive surgery to fix the tear. The arthritis is a longer-term issue.
Surprisingly, I’ve had pretty much no pain. I remember when my right hip was first diagnosed with arthritis it was already painful, to the point it was aching and keeping me up at night. But by modifying my exercise (giving up running and sticking to biking and hiking), I was able to go another ten years before the hip had to be replaced. So I’m hoping to get 10 years or so out of the knee joint if I treat it right.
There are several measures I can take, including doing more upper body workouts and less lower, not pushing big gears on the bike, and avoiding downhill hiking, or at least steep downhills. I have several local places I can hike up pushing a bike then, bike down, or hike up and use a gradually-sloped trail down. For adventures further afield, there are ski areas that in the off-season let you hike up and then take the gondola down. But I think I’ll stick to biking as my primary activity, since that is easy on the knees if you don’t push big gears.
I can think of some things I did in my misspent youth that may have pre-disposed me to arthritis. I did a lot of running and was a heel-striker, which we now know can cause excess impact. I also found hiking downhill boring, so I used to love to hike up then run down trails, even steep ones. I can’t change any of that now, but I can treat it better going forward. And we’ll see what my ortho Doc says at the follow-up.