Originally Posted by snowyphil65
Can it cause any additional damage? Or is it just going to cause pain and no real damage to the knee?
Are these two questions about the surgery? If so, they are questions for your doctor because the answer depends on how bad the tear is and where it is located. The meniscus is a hunk of fibrocartilage in the joint capsule, meaning it gets its nutrients through diffusion- there is no direct blood supply.
Since nutrients are not directly delivered to it, the outer edge of the meniscus gets more of what it needs. (Think of putting ball-shaped sponge in water- the last thing that gets wet is center or the core.) By the time the fluid reaches the center, the outer layers will have taken all the nutrients they need, leaving little for the cells in the middle. Thus tears or surgical repairs involving the middle are less likely to heal.
Your Ortho guy has two options when he gets in there- either repair the tear or remove/shave off the part that is 'torn off'. Depending on how bad the tear is, that could be part or all of the meniscus (although seeing you're still skiing, this is probably unlikely but again, a question for him).
If the questions are regarding putting off surgery- the risks of further damage to the knee is pretty much the same as if you had surgery. Either way- fixing it or not fixing it- you're at risk for osteoarthritis because you have damaged the 'cushion' of the joint. So if you're going to get arthritis in the knee anyways later on, why live in pain until then?
For me it was an easy decision- and the surgery was a breeze. It's usually done arthroscopically in a day surgery center and they tell you to stay on crutches for a few days. Usually in 2-3 weeks you're back to 100% with the help of knee exercises. The only scars you're left with are 2-3 little 'mosquito bites'.
Of course surgery always has risks, so it's important to consider them and talk to your doctor. But if you're living in pain and are going to get it fixed anyhow, why wait?