Needing Knee Surgery? Think Again – Study Finds Most Knee Surgeries Are Not Necessary
As we age, problems with our joints become more and more likely, as years of wear and tear chip away at them. One of the most common joint problems associated with aging and wear and tear is knee injury. Millions of people go through knee surgery each year in hopes of prolonging the health of their knees.
The most common and disabling knee injury that many Americans deal with some time in their life, is a meniscal tear, which happens when the rubbery discs (meniscus) that cushions the knee joint incurs damage. As a result, a surgery called knee arthroscopy is performed on over 2 million people every year. Whether or not this procedure is effective in the long term, is up for debate.
Now, a medical team of researchers out of the Norway, has done a study that suggests that exercise may work as well or better than surgery to heal meniscal tears. The study was recently published on July 20 in the BMJ.
The team, lead by Nina Jullum Kise, an orthopedic surgeon at Martina Hansens Hospital in Sandvika, Norway, tracked 140 knee patients. These patients were an average of 50 years old and had degenerative meniscal tears, with little signs of arthritis.
The patients were divided into two groups. Half of them went through with arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery followed by simple daily exercise at home. The other half did not do the surgery, but had two or three supervised exercise sessions a week for 3 months.
At the end of the research period, it was noted that those in the exercise group had much improved thigh strength, while the surgery group showed no difference. However, two years later, the level of pain, function and quality of life related to the knees, was similar for both groups.
According to the researchers, 19% of the patients in the exercise only group went on to have knee surgery during the follow up period in the study. However, the surgeries did not appear to provide them with additional benefits.
The conclusion Kise’s group reached was that middle-aged patients with meniscal tears should consider exercise therapy instead of invasive surgery.
This study certainly makes us think about how commonly surgeries are prescribed for all manners of injuries and ailments today, when often the body can heal itself if given time and good care.