Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Research Finds Little To No Clinical Benefit For Arthroscopic Surgery For Knee Arthritis Or Degenerative Meniscal Tears

July 31, 2022

Arthroscopic surgery remains a common procedure for patients with knee arthritis and degenerative meniscal tears despite medical evidence questioning its’ utilization. Previous research papers have not shown a clinically significant benefit for this procedure and some have shown it has not outperformed a placebo surgery for these conditions. The increasing evidence has led to medical guidelines strongly recommending against its’ utilization in these patient populations.

A recent Cochrane Review was published on the effectiveness of knee arthroscopic surgery for patients with knee arthritis and degenerative meniscal tears (O’Connor et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2022). Authors reviewed 16 trials of 2015 participants including 4 trials directly comparing this surgery to a placebo surgery. They concluded “arthroscopic surgery provided little to no clinically important benefits in knee pain or function”. Instead patients are encouraged to utilize conservative interventions for knee pain including Physical Therapy. In our Boulder Physical Therapy practice this patient population is commonly treated with manual therapy, including knee joint mobilizations, and exercise. This treatment approach has previously been shown to delay or prevent the need for a future knee replacement.

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