Those who have had to endure knee surgeries in their lifetimes, certainly know about the pain and recovery that goes along with it. New research in the New England Journal of Medicine though, contradicts the importance of knee surgery, and questions its future.
The news in the NEJM highlighted the importance of knee surgeries, and their importance in the recovery time with knee problems. The study showed that thousands of people might be undergoing the knee surgeries without need, and might just need to re-examine their surgery needs.
Torn Meniscus The Study Focus
In the study, the 700,000 people who undergo the torn meniscus surgeries throughout the US were the topic. The surgeries cost the health industry and insurance companies an estimated $4 billion per year, and the study took a look at people who experience these tears in their cartilage tears.
The study, which was conducted in Finland, and took a look at those who had surgery, and those who experienced “fake” surgery. The surgery which involves small incisions in the knee were done on a group of patients, but another group received fake surgery, but no actual surgery beyond the incisions. Both groups experienced knees that felt better, which questions the importance of knee surgeries.
Is Physical Therapy The Answer?
What the study took a closer look, was the connection betweeen meniscal tears and osteoarthritis, and those with the arthritic conditions actually faired better with physical therapy verus surgery. Those patients who did physical therapy as the primary way to heal, didn’t have to endure longer rehabilitation times, and were able to heal quicker.
The study has its critics, including those doctors who perform them. There still is a group who definitely will need surgery, including athletes and younger patients who don’t have any osteoarthritic conditions in their knees. But, for those who are found to have the arthritic condition might be better off with physical therapy versus surgery, which can cost less, and do better with physical therapy. As the study focused on those with mild to moderate arthritis, it was a narrow study for sure, but gives hope for those dreading knee surgery and who are looking for alternative ways to heal.