Hello. Hoping some of you can shed some light on my situation. I'm 42 yrs old, in decent shape, have been working full time as a waitress in New York City for the last 10 years. (And 10 yrs on and off before that...) 7 weeks ago I tripped in the kitchen at work, didn't fall to the ground, but hurt/twisted my knee in trying to prevent myself from falling, as I stumbled to catch myself. Felt pain on inside of knee and down front of shin, and couldn't put full weight on injured knee. Because I don't have health insurance and had vacation time anyway, I went home and stayed off it for a few weeks, icing for pain -- RICE. After 3 weeks, no change, finally went to doctor and got MRI.
Results: "The medial meniscus demonstrates a midaspect flap tear extending to the inferior surface. There is slight effusion with small medial popliteal cyst."
Indicates other structures are intact. First, can someone please explain these results to me? What kind/shape of tear is this? Bucket handle, parrot-beak? What grade/how severe? Is it red on white, etc?
Now, on to Part 2: Unfortunately, I've had to file for Worker's Compensation here in NY state, (employer's insurance pays since I was injured on the job), I'm somewhat at the mercy of the system. Dr. has me following conservative treatment plan with more RICE, physical therapy 3 x/week, completely off the job. So far, I've had 4 physical therapy sessions and I'm not really seeing any improvement. It's really painful, I still can't bend or straighten all the way, hearing/feeling clicking and slipping, muscle spasms, and can't put full weight on injured leg.
Naturally, my boss wants to know when I'm coming back to work. (So do I...) And why I'm not having the surgery straight away. Right now, I'm SURE there's no way I could work an 8-10 hour busy shift on my feet, fast-walking in all directions, carrying heavy trays, etc. She keeps telling me that she and my other manager both had meniscal tears and both had the surgery. (Of course, the job pays their insurance...) Since having surgery, neither has had any residual problems. My boss thinks that because I have a meniscal tear, unless I have the surgery, it's not going to heal. She thinks I'm wasting time and should just have the surgery and get it over with -- that I will end up having to have the surgery anyway -- and that even if I am able to return to work after a month or so, because of the physicality of my job, chances are pretty high that I will re-injure the same knee, anyway.
Of course, I understand, she's not a doctor and everybody's body responds and heals differently. My doctor wants to see how I respond to a few more weeks of physical therapy before making any decisions. Problem is, because my job is so physical and requires me being on my feet for hours, I can't go back to work until I'm darn near healed. (Limping waitress in an upscale restaurant is not an option.) Right now, I'm still in a lot of pain, walking with a cane, etc. It's been 7 weeks since it first happened. Is it reasonable to think that my tear still could heal with a few more weeks of physical therapy - ultrasound, TENS, and exercises? And if it does indeed heal, because of the physical nature of my job, how vulnerable will I be to reinjury? I would really like to get back to work as soon as possible, without the danger of re-injury, and to avoid having surgery. Is this reasonable/possible? Is there anything I can do to facilitate this process? And prevent re-injury? And completely avoid surgery now and/or in the future?
Thank you so much for your time, consideration, and advice.