Physiotherapy as good as surgery for some knee problems
Osteoarthritis and meniscal tear patients may benefit just as much from a course of physiotherapy as the usual treatment of keyhole surgery.
A meniscal tear (otherwise known as ‘torn knee cartilage’) is a common knee injury which causes pain and swelling. Meniscal tears are usually treated with keyhole surgery but a new study into its effectiveness has found that physiotherapy alone may be just as beneficial as physiotherapy after surgery.
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the U.S. examined the records of 351 people who had enrolled in a meniscal tear and osteoarthritis research trial.
All participants were aged 45 and over, and all had a meniscal tear as well as osteoarthritis of the knee.
Some of the patients had undergone keyhole surgery to repair the damaged tissue in their knees, while others were treated only with physiotherapy.
Scientists monitoring how the participants fared over the next 12 months concluded physiotherapy alone may be just as effective as surgery.
Principal investigator Dr Jeffrey Katz, director of the Orthopaedic and Arthritis Centre for Outcomes Research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said: “Patients who wish to avoid surgery can be reassured that physical therapy is a reasonable option, although they should recognise that not everyone will improve with physical therapy alone.”
One orthopaedic surgeon working on the study said these results will help health professionals work with patients to develop a treatment plan they feel comfortable with.
While the connection between osteoarthritis and meniscal tears is complex, Arthritis Research UK states that people who undergo a meniscectomy (keyhole surgery in the knee) to remove torn cartilage are 14 times more likely to develop osteoarthritis than the general population.
To find out how physiotherapy can help you and to find a local private physiotherapist, please visit our page about Physiotherapy.
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