You MUST watch this. Honestly. TriAgain left the YouTube link in the comment section. When I finally got time to view the whole thing, Dr. Dye's remarks left quite an impression and actually left me wanting more.
This is unvarnished, straight-talking Scott F. Dye, who has been described as a “renegade knee theorist.” He calls himself a “surgical minimalist” as well. Most importantly, he has thrown his weight behind the only medical theory of understanding chronic knee pain (“the envelope of function”) that makes sense, at least to me.
The YouTube video is a 56-minute presentation (and q&a session) that he gave that I could write pages and pages about. Instead, I’ll just touch on some highlights.
* The worst cases of knee pain he sees are “iatrogenic.” That’s a very significant word to know. Because it means, basically, the surgeon caused the problem. Well, not the initial knee pain, but the surgery to “correct the problem” made it worse.
He shows a slide of several knees that went through multiple surgeries. Each knee got worse after all the operations.
* Chondromalacia is not a death sentence (he has asymptomatic grade three chondromalacia, he tells us). Also it’s not the same thing as patellofemoral pain syndrome. This common confusion clearly irks him; he even mentions that the Mayo Clinic website wrongly uses the two as synonyms.
“This is total and utter nonsense,” he says.
* Patellofemoral pain syndrome does NOT correlate with malalignment. There’s one study I usually cite as evidence to support this; he lists what appears to be a dozen or so studies.
What’s more, he makes the point that it’s dangerous to try to make adjustments based on perceived malalignment. He shows an X-ray where the kneecap looks tilted – but if you look at a different image that includes the cartilage too, you see the cartilage on the patella and end bone actually mate perfectly.
So what if a surgeon had gone in and tried to shave off some cartilage or perform a lateral release to “fix” that kneecap, which was actually perfect for that particular person? That’s how you get iatrogenic problems.
* He believes the key to understanding what’s wrong with painful knees is through a bone scan. This I find quite intriguing. I often thought that some kind of bone scan would have revealed the problem in my knees that the X-ray and MRI didn’t really detect.
(Yes, I blamed bad cartilage, and I still think there’s some truth to that, as excessive force on the joints may reduce the ability of cartilage to absorb shock, but I think a bone scan may have found other problems.)
* He is incredulous when talking about “PT Nazis,” who encourage patients to work through their pain threshold. I almost stood up and cheered. This approach is just nuts. I know it now, you should too, and Dye remarks, “This is just sickening.” He’s right. “No pain, no gain” makes sense for muscle growth, but not for a sore and aching joint.
* Then, finally, on being a surgical minimalist, he says “less is more.” He also conjures up a really neat image when he says, “Sometimes we surgeons have to get the pebble out of the shoe.” Notice the implied modesty there. This isn’t surgeon as superman, trying to remodel your entire joint. Rather, he’s trying to remove something small that doesn’t belong in a well-functioning joint.
Watch it. You’ll be glad you did.