I have personal experience from this, having experienced an 8mm tear as a result from a side/rear-end collision auto accident in December. I have been through physical therapy for a period of 4 months and have experienced an increase in pain since that time. I was on an extensive trip to Nepal teaching in a local monastery, and visited the Orthopaedic hospital in Kathmandu to continue rehabilitation. Symptoms continued to worsen, and daily activities, even simple silent meditation (not yoga or qi-gong exercises) were virtually intolerable. The availablily of quality (and appropriate) analgesics for this type of injury abroad is rather questionable.
I was told that about 50% of athletes (I play professional golf - or at least used to prior to this injury) have this type of problem and can recover to full range of motion and be pain-free with simple physical rehabilitation. I do not believe that this involves "healing" of the tear - anatomically it does not appear to be possible for such a tear to simply "heal" itself without intervention. Strengthening exercises and other physical therapy techniques are used to mitigate the spread of the damage, but it ends up becoming a matter of whether the patient can deal with the pain (or hopefully the lack thereof). Unfortunately, my situation appears to not be falling within the rehabilitatable half of the athletic (and/or non-athletic) population.
I'm told by my surgeon that an all-arthroscopic technique is his preference for surgically repairing this damage, though some studies have shown slightly better post-op patient satisfaction with a partially-open technique. I have an appointment on Wednesday to find out the scoop. My reading has also indicated that regardless of the approach taken, the skill of the surgeon and diligent follow-up care is the deciding factor as to the effectiveness of any surgical procedure of this nature.
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