Studies show medication, physical therapy as effective as knee surgery
Two studies show that knee surgery is beneficial at times but should not be performed routinely for the treatment of osteoarthritis, according to Fox News. The studies were published in a recent New England Journal of Medicine. One finds that medicine combined with physical therapy is just as effective as surgery for relieving the pain and stiffness of moderate or severe arthritis. The other study finds that tears in knee cartilage that often result in surgery are very common and do not always cause symptoms.
Osteoarthritis is a common aliment that has earned the condition a top ranking in disability of Americans. Symptoms of stiffness, pain and limited movement are caused when the cartilage at the end of the bone breaks down, causing the bones to rub together at the joints. The most common remedy has been arthroscopic surgery, during which surgeons insert a scope with a camera through small incisions, where they smooth damaged cartilage surfaces and flush out bone chips. This allows for faster healing time than traditional surgery.
To alleviate pain following knee surgery, doctors at times will insert a pain pump to deliver medication directly to the surgical wound site. These post-operative pain pumps can help alleviate the pain associated with surgery, but they may come at a greater risk. Post-operative pain pumps, or intra-articular pain pumps, are routinely used in similar arthroscopic surgeries for shoulder injuries.
A recent study by The American Journal of Sports Medicine identified a link between the post-operative pain pumps and a painful, cartilage deteriorating condition known as Postarthoscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis, or PAGCL. PAGCL can cause irreversible damage and may require additional surgeries.
Patients who are considering knee surgery are advised to discuss alternative options with their physicians.