Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

No Difference Between Physical Therapy And Surgery For Knee Meniscal Tears During 5 Year Follow Up

November 16, 2022

Knee meniscal tears are a common source of knee pain for patients in our Boulder Physical Therapy and Lafayette Physical Therapy clinics. They can be categorized in two broad categories including acute or traumatic tears and degenerative, often referred to as non traumatic or age related, tears. Research into the best treatments for this latter category of meniscal tears have not found significant differences in clinical outcomes between Physical Therapy and surgery. Despite the evidence supporting Physical Therapy and exercise for the treatment of knee meniscal tears arthroscopic menisectomy remains one of the most common surgical procedures in our country. A recent follow up study highlights the long term benefits of Physical Therapy for this condition.

Noorduyn and colleagues published their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open (2022). Authors asked the question which was superior Physical Therapy or arthroscopic surgery for patients aged 45-70 years old with a degenerative meniscal tear. This study was a 5 year follow up to the same participants of an earlier randomized controlled trial between these two treatments. Authors reinforced the findings of the earlier time points and did not find a significant clinical difference between Physical Therapy or surgery for knee meniscal tears at this new 5 year follow up. Authors concluded “exercise based Physical Therapy should be the preferred treatment over surgery for degenerative meniscal tears”.

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