I saw the Orthopedist on Friday. We reviewed the MRI together.
He pointed out the areas on the surface cartilage of the knee where there was evidence of arthritis, he also showed me an area on the meniscus cartilage that was damaged. He said that was likely the cause of my knee clicking and locking (and hurting).
He was somewhat ambivalent about doing surgery to trim the meniscus. I asked him is the knee would get any better without it. He thought that it would not. I told him that I wanted his honest opinion. I really wanted to be able to restore the full range of motion of my knee, or at least not have it lock, so that I could resume rowing. But I didn’t want to do something that would have negative long term effects on my health just so I could keep doing this specific sport.
He said that the surgery had a low risk of complications (<1%) and that there was a better than 50% chance that it would fix the mechanical issues with the knee. There was a 5% chance that surgery could make it worse. I guess the other 40 to 45% chance is that it doesn’t help all that much, but doesn’t make it worse.
Since my knee worked well enough to row 10 days ago, I decided that trying to fix whatever damage is there would be the best course of action. I will be setting up a surgery date on Monday.
Until then, I think I will stick to very low intensity stationary bike, along with core and upper body strength work. I think I need to give the joint a rest.