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Common Knee Surgery of No Benefit to Many with Knee Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Meniscus Tears


Arthroscopic partial meniscectomy surgery performed on middle aged and older people who have degenerative meniscus tears and knee osteoarthritis fails to provide pain relief or better joint function.


McMaster University researchers published a study August 25, 2014 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, in which they reviewed seven studies comparing arthroscopic partial meniscectomy to non-operative options. More than 800 patients, whose average age was 56 years, were represented in these studies. Those studied had no to mild osteoarthritis of the knee.

Millions of people worldwide undergo these “keyhole” surgeries to address degenerative meniscus tears. As people age, the meniscus in the knee thins and becomes less flexible and more susceptible to tearing, causing pain and mechanical issues. The surgery seemed to be good fix and became popular because it involves making small incisions to remove the torn fragments from the damaged meniscus. Its track record, however, tells another story. And, even though it is considered minimally invasive surgery, there may be complications.

The researchers of this latest review report that four of the trials they looked at found no short-term pain relief in the first six months after surgery for patients with some osteoarthritis; nor was there improvement in long-term function up to two years later in five trials. Previous studies showed that for patients with severe knee arthritis, arthroscopic knee surgery is not effective for long-term symptom relief.

“This study shows that surgery should not be the initial option for middle-aged or older patients, as there is limited evidence supporting partial meniscectomy surgery for meniscus tears,” says Dr. Moin Khan, a research fellow in orthopedic surgery in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine he said. “Other treatments should be used first.”

Physical therapists are trained to provide non-operative solutions to knee pain and other joint pain, from injury and degeneration. For more about how a physical therapist can help relieve knee pain, restore function and quality of life, in order to prevent surgery or to rehabilitate patients post-surgery, contact A Physical Therapist, Inc.

A Physical Therapist, Inc., is a one-on-one physical therapy clinic in Delray Beach, Fla., and Harrisburg, Penn. For patients in Palm Beach County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Boca Raton or Boynton Beach. For patients in Dauphin County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Hershey and Marysville.

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