Joint Pain Relief/Slow healer?


I am 55, and until recently still a weekend jock. I recently had arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus suffered playing soccer. The doc said he did what he could but  there was  toonie (or silver dollar) sized area of arthritis there. Its been ten weeks and still very sore-I cant run for any length of time. In fact if I go for a run my knee is sore for days after. I have always been a slow healer however.
My wife says to hang up the runners, lose the beer belly, and retire from sports, apart from maybe low impact stuff like working out on our elliptical. Is she right?
Thanks have a good summer!

Hi Bud,

Here are my thoughts (and don't get too mad at me for siding a bit with your wife on a couple of points!):

1. 10 weeks out from arthroscopic surgery is not (generally) long enough to allow for proper healing from the surgery. I tell my patients that slow and steady progress towards full healing usually begins 1-2 weeks after surgery and can take from 12 to 18 weeks until all of the pain and inflammation are 90-100% gone. Along those lines I strongly recommend against any high(er) impact activities that might cause joint irritation - and running definitely falls into that category.

My suggestion - eliminate running for now and stay away from any activity that increases either pain or inflammation.

2. Arthritis (aka Osteoarthritis) is simply joint inflammation. The area in your knee the doctor is referring to is likely a portion of the joint cartilage that's been "worn down" and is susceptible to getting irritated. Note that I said "susceptible" - therefore the irritation is not definitely going to happen. It means that you MAY have to give up running if every time you try to run it hurts and/or gets swollen.

So here's the part where I (sort of) side with your wife... You should definitely lose any and all weight that you reasonable can. More weight equals more stress / strain on that irritated spot and that means an increased probability of irritating it. If you lose 5, 10, 20 lbs (or whatever the equal amount of kgs are... I'm from the US so I, by definition, lack the ability to convert to the metric system) you'll likely have less knee pain during any and all weight bearing activities.

I'd suggest you make a concerted effort over the next several weeks to clean up your eating and lose some weight. It will give you the best chance possible to get back to running once your knee has healed. And you'll look and feel better!

The bottom line is... You're going to have to wait and see what the future holds for your running and other high impact activities. In any case - be sure to do everything you can to fully heal from your surgery before trying to run again.

I wish you the best of luck!


Joint Pain Relief

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David Berman, MS, PT, COMT, CSCS


David can answer questions about joint pain from injuries and degenerative conditions (like osteoarthritis), pre- and post-surgical joint issues, and other such conditions.


David is a licensed and practicing Physical Therapist (since 1997) with expertise as an Orthopedic Manual Therapist. He is a nationally recognized expert in the treatment of muscle and joint pain.

Master of Science in Physical Therapy (1996) Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist (1999) Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (2004) Licensed Physical Therapist in the state of Colorado (2000 - present)

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