Both of my knee joints have had meniscus tears. My left knee joint was operated and meniscus tear was treated by menisectomy which means in my case that big part of my lateral (external) meniscus was removed. Year later when I had meniscus tear on my right knee my doctor also made me appointment in order to perform menisectomy within a week. During this week I noticed that my knee is already much better and I cancelled my surgery appointment one day before I had to go for a surgery. During next few weeks my swapping was gone and I could walk on my knee. I tried to avoid putting direct pressure on my injured knee and during my rehabilitation period I was mostly swimming, riding bicycle and building leg muscles with weight machines. I'm sure there is some degree of degeneration of meniscus due to the injury but I did not have to go through surgery.
Injury of my right knee happened 6 years ago and I can tell you that my non-operated knee is in much better condition than my operated knee. Recovery time after surgery was quite long I had to use crutches during many months after surgery. Although I had arthroscopic surgery which is great progress when compared to the fact that few decades ago they used to cut your knee wide open by knife. Look at the scars those patients have on their knees due to having open knee surgery in 80s and 70s. Also in those days they used to proceed always with full menisectomy which increased the risk to have permanent damage in articular cartilage in case the patient continued to play soccer or any other sport that include running. Damaging articular cartilage of joint will develop osteoarthritis. Also it's very clear that every surgery contains risks although this kind of surgery is very common there could still occur complications like inflammation etc.
I'm not orthopedic nor have official education of this subject just think that we all can use our common sense. Seems however that many orthopedists are recommend surgery without considering alternative options. It's very clear that you do have to have surgery performed if your knee is locked after suffering meniscus tear but if you are just having swelling and / or pain sometimes you can avoid surgical treatment. At least you can always ask second opinion after all it's your knee and also your money because knee surgery is quite expensive as we all know. I have noticed also that the knee once operated will need very reasonably more operations I have no official statistics about this subject but has happened with many friends of mine. Yes, I know also many people who have had menisectomy and say that their knee is now better than ever. Also I'm aware that in many cases orthopedist will try to repair meniscus without removing any parts of the meniscus. I have to admit that implications of having surgery vary a lot and obviously there are many variables including anatomical features of each individual affecting the final result.
Some patients are happy with the results of surgery and others are not but I doubt anyone will regret not having meniscus surgery. Anyway it would be worth to try conventional methods because there are chances you could avoid surgery and avoiding surgery is good for your knee and also for your wallet. My point is you can always have surgery later on if it looks like your knee is not getting better.
Who knows maybe I could have avoided also surgery on my right knee. After having problems with my knee joints I have studied anatomy of knee joint and reviewed many different points of views. It would be needless to say that meniscus is very important part of your knee joint and without meniscus protecting your knee joint there is much greater chance to develop progressive knee injury like knee osteoarthritis. You can not completely avoid having knee injury while doing physical exercises but there are many things you can do in order to reduce your risk to fall victim of many different types of knee injuries. Strengthening your leg muscles is very important to prevent knee injury and also rehabilitation after having injury is much faster with strong muscles surrounding the knee joint.