Sunday, July 31, 2016

Yet Another Study Weighs in Against Surgery for Knee Pain

On knee pain, two solid, almost unassailable truths have emerged:

(1) If you want to reduce your pain and you’re overweight, lose weight. I’ve given up citing all the new studies that link excess weight to knee pain, as I could probably mention one every month, but what’s the sense? The message is always the same. If you’re still debating this one, you probably still think the earth is flat too.

(2) Surgery is a bad idea for most cases of chronic knee pain. This is more an emerging truth, but the evidence just keeps stacking up. Most recently was a study summed up by the Washington Post with the headline “Maybe You Don’t Need That Knee Surgery After All.”

The study included 140 adult subjects, averaging 50 years in age, with knee pain from a tear in the meniscus. (Important: the tear was degenerative, as opposed to the result of a specific injury.) The participants either had arthroscopic surgery followed by a daily exercise regimen or worked with a physical therapist on neuromuscular and strength exercises a few times a week for 12 weeks.

At the final two-year checkup, the researchers found basically no difference between the surgery and physical therapy groups in their level of pain, ability to function in sports, and quality of life.

For the full study (as of this writing, it’s not paywalled), go here.


  1. may be postop the knees never achieved homeostasis,,, this mutlifactorial etiopathogenesis is a blackhole in orthopaedics,,,!

  2. Hi Richard, this is Justin.

    What about stem cell treatment for Chondromalacia Patella? Have you ever heard success stories using this new advanced method? Did they include stem cell treatment in their analysis?

    Thank you

    1. I mention ACI in the book, and I tend to lump those treatments loosely together. Honestly, I don't know a lot about them, but they sometimes involve serious (and repeated) surgeries and have some significant side effects (scar tissue formation in the joint, e.g.). Still, the surgical processes may get better over time -- I don't know. Anyone out there have a personal experience they want to share?

  3. And now for something completely different. Folks who were thought to be permanently paralyzed start to make baby steps after ten months using some sci-fi technology that convince their brains they're walking.