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Doctors: Bush doesn't need knee surgery

Doctors told President Bush on Thursday that he does not need surgery on his sore knees, but they recommended a careful exercise regimen and stretching.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Doctors told President Bush on Thursday that he did not need surgery on his sore knees, but recommended a careful exercise regimen and stretching, the White House said.

The 57-year-old president had MRIs, or magnetic resonance imaging scans, taken of both knees at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Bush consulted with two specialists, Dr. Kevin Murphy, the chief of orthopedic service at Walter Reed, and Dr. Stephen Haas, doctor for the Washington Wizards basketball team.

“Neither surgeon recommends surgery,” according to a medical summary of Bush’s exam issued by the White House.

Bush maintains a “pretty rigorous workout schedule,” press secretary Scott McClellan said in a statement. “While he’s not really running much anymore, he continues to work out regularly.”

The pain only comes when Bush runs, he said.

Powell visited
While at the medical center, the president and first lady Laura Bush visited soldiers wounded in Iraq. He also gave a speech to about 200 members of the medical staff.

The president dropped in on Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is recovering from prostate cancer surgery on Monday. “Colin Powell received great health care here, and he is doing very well,” Bush said.

Earlier this year, Bush had aching knees and a minor muscle tear in his right calf that forced him to give up his 7-minute-mile runs for several weeks. The calf strain had healed by Bush’s annual physical in early August. According to the doctors’ report on the physical, the president takes chondroitin glucosamine, a dietary supplement used to east joint discomfort.

In September, the president said he believed he had a a tear in his meniscus, a common injury to the cartilage that lines the inside surfaces of the knee. That again slowed his jogging workout.

Little jogging
People with very small tears sometimes are helped with knee braces and exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles. Arthroscopic surgery can trim away ragged edges of the tear so the joint moves more smoothly, or remove the meniscus or repair it.

McClellan said that because of the pain in Bush’s right knee, the president has run only occasionally in recent months. Bush has used an elliptical trainer, a standup exercise machine, and has been jogging in water to get aerobic exercise.

“He’s still working out regularly,” McClellan said. “He’s showing the wear and tear of someone who is active and someone who is his age.”