Physical Therapy Better than Arthroscopic Surgery

Dr. Robert Bobert
Dr. Robert Bobert


Physical Therapist examining knee

An international panel of surgeons and patients have challenged the effectiveness of arthroscopic surgery in patients with degenerative knee problems. In a report in the British Medical Journal, they found improvement of only 15 percent of patients three months after the surgery, and no noticeable improvement after a year. Instead, treatment with physical therapy is found to be more effective in reducing pain and strengthening the knee structure with degenerative conditions.

Arthroscopic knee surgery is one of the most common orthopedic procedures performed when treating knee pain.  The cost of these surgeries in the United States alone is more than $3 billion annually. In 2002, the surgery was initially questioned by The New England Journal of Medicine. In a randomized trial, patients with osteoarthritis in their knees were given either arthroscopic surgery or a placebo surgery where patients had incisions made, but no instruments were inserted into the knee.  Arthroscopic surgery was found to be no more effective in treating pain and mobility than no surgery at all.


To read the British Medical Journal report visit: Arthroscopic surgery for degenerative knee arthritis and meniscal tears: a clinical practice guideline

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