25% of people over 45 years of age have some form of degenerate knee disease, also referred to as osteoarthritis. Total knee replacements are the only definitive therapy available, but only for patients with severe forms who fail conservative management (physical therapy). However, in the U.S. arthroscopic knee surgery is the most common procedure performed on people with degenerative knee disease, such as degenerative meniscal tears or osteoarthritis. Arthroscopic knee surgery with debridement and or partial meniscectomy typically results in a momentary increase in pain and a restriction on activities for a period of between 2-12 weeks.
Does this surgery result in better outcomes than going to physical therapy alone?
According to a systemic review that included 25 studies, the results are:
- On average there are very small to no differences found in terms of pain, function and quality of life in 3 months following the surgery and 2 years following the surgery.
- The small improvements shown in pain, function and quality of life after performing the surgery were only noted in the short term, with no benefits in the long term.
These results suggest that patients and their healthcare providers must evaluate the trade-offs between possible small terms improvements in the short term against the burden of pain, swelling, and restriction of activities over 2-6 weeks following the surgery.
If pain is interfering or holding your back from performing the activities you love, reach out to a performance physical therapist!