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  • Fake Surgery Just as Good as the Real Thing for Meniscus Tears

    Actual surgery is no better than simulated surgery in treatment of individuals with nontraumatic degenerative meniscal tears and no osteoarthritis, according to a study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    In the study (abstract only available for free), researchers identified 146 patients aged 35–65 with nontraumatic meniscal tears and randomly assigned them to receive either a partial meniscectomy or a "sham" procedure that only simulated the surgery. All study participants received similar postoperative care that included an exercise program and analgesics as needed.

    After 12 months, researchers found no significant differences in recovery between the patient groups, with similar levels of improvement in Lyshom and Western Ontario Meniscal Evaluation Tool scores and comparable ratings for knee pain after exercise. Study authors caution that the findings apply only to individuals with degenerative medial meniscus tears and no osteoarthritis.

    The recent study supports earlier research that found physical therapy to be just as effective as surgery for meniscal tears. These findings were recognized by APTA in March 2013.


    • I would like to know if these patients were charged as if they received the actual surgery

      Posted by Hermes Romero on 1/6/2014 9:14 PM

    • To answer Mr. Romero question, I assume the subjects participating in the study signed an informed consent to take part in the experimental trial and perhaps they even received any kind of monetary compensation for that. Most of the time, investigations are granted by funds and participating subjects or their health insurance are not charged at all. I haven't read the article as a whole but it seems to be a living example of placebo effect.

      Posted by Jorge A. Fernández-Vieitez on 1/10/2014 5:19 PM

    • This is such an awesome article. More and more evidence is available to help people understand that a physical therapist should be the 1st stop when someone is injured or in pain. We would be well served as critical reviewers of evidence based medicine if we had access to the full text without being associated with a university or large medical organization.

      Posted by Aaron LeBauer on 1/16/2014 7:49 AM

    • My husband required meniscus surgery because he could hardly walk. I am a PT of 25 years and don't think he could have done without the surgery at all. Very interesting study. Candace Pella

      Posted by candace pella on 5/29/2015 11:17 AM

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