Could 1 of the most popular surgical procedures in the United States be unnecessary many of the approximately 700,000 times it is performed each year?
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that might be the case for arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus—particularly if the tear is a result of wear and aging, as opposed to a traumatic event.
As the New York Times reported ("Common Knee Surgery Does Very Little for Some, Study Suggests" - December 25, 2013), a Finnish study of 146 patients between the ages of 35 and 65 found that those who had arthroscopic surgery had no better level of satisfaction 1 year later than had others in the study who had undergone a mock surgical procedure.
"Those who do research have been gradually showing that this popular operation is not of very much value," Dr David Felson told the Times.
What exactly does that mean? Well, it means that there's essentially a chance that the outcomes of a surgical repair are not significantly greater than that of physical therapy, meaning you can achieve close to the same outcome at a much cheaper cost. Does this concept apply to everyone? No, it absolutely does not. This study is one of a few that are starting to go public that only apply to those in generally good health, not other knee conditions, and no outstanding circumstances - meaning they are low risk patients who wish to get back to moderately stressful (on the body) activities, at the most. High level athletes, young athletes, and professional athletes are not considered in this category, as well as elderly, individuals with other degenerative conditions of the knee, and those with multiple injuries of the knee (like a meniscus tear and ACL tear, or something along those lines.)
Talk to your physical therapist today, or come see an orthopedic physical therapist at CHAMPION about whether surgery is a good option for you!