Should you have arthroscopic knee surgery for arthritis?

“Should I have arthroscopic knee surgery for arthritis or attend physical therapy?” is a common question that you may be faced with in your clinic. A recent AP press release has brought this to the attention of the general population after the publication of new study in the New England Journal of Medicine.  This was a topic of a recent post on myphysicaltherapyspace as well. The study demonstrated that physical therapy and medications were just as effective at treating arthritis than arthroscopic surgery. 

Please comment and share why you think this may be?  Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Arthritis is likely caused for a reason.  Surgery alone will not fix issues with weight, muscle imbalance (strength or flexibility), poor alignment, or poor dynamic biomechanics during sport or functional activities.
  • We are seeing a rise in patients that can be classified as sedentary. Physical activity of any sort, including exercises performed in rehabilitation, can help improve some of the musculoskeletal deficits associated with the onset of osteoarthritis.  Surgery is not a quick fix!  Most surgeons would agree and say that the patient’s work has just begun after surgery and that the key to successful long term outcomes is compliance with physical therapy.

4 replies
  1. Trevor Winnegge PT,DPT,MS,OCS,CSCS
    Trevor Winnegge PT,DPT,MS,OCS,CSCS says:

    I also think the people who opt for the quick fix surgery aren’t willing to put in extensive rehab afterwards. VMO is shot, and the vicious cycle of pain, joint friction, altered gait and weakness intensifies!

  2. Tom Wetterich, PT
    Tom Wetterich, PT says:

    Great to see positive research on the benefits of physical therapy! A step in the right direction when we get mainstream exposure!

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