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.
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