Knee Pain: Surgery or Physical Therapy

February 26th, 2014
Knee Pain: Surgery or Physical Therapy

Knee pain manual therapy performed by a Physical Therapist.

Patients who have chronic knee pain come into our clinic and think ultimately surgery is the only option. However, this isn’t always the case. Many orthopaedic problems can be solved through physical therapy. Recent studies on chronic knee pain such as this study from the journal of Age and Ageing confirms that older men should take preventative steps to address knee pain to avoid further injury in the future.

The December 2013 journal article from researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia reported that chronic knee pain puts men in their 70s at greater risk for mobility disease, back pain and loss of muscle mass if left untreated. The study followed 1,587 men aged 70 years and older over the course of two years. At the beginning of the study, 40 percent of the men reported chronic knee pain. By the end of the study, those who noted chronic knee pain saw a link between this pain and decreased muscle mass, something that had only been recognized in women prior to this research.

Chronic knee pain can be caused by a number of health-related issues, one of the most common being a torn meniscus, or a rupture in the knee cartilage. Arthroscopic knee surgery is one of the most common ways to treat a torn meniscus, but recent studies show that physical therapy may be a better option.

study in August of 2013 published in the New England Journal of Medicine assigned a group of 351 patients aged 45 and older to either physical therapy or to surgery followed by physical therapy. Results showed that those who avoided an operation had similar rates of functional improvement and similar pain scores to those who underwent surgery. According to the research, surgery isn’t always the best option for a torn meniscus or chronic pain caused from arthritis and can often be avoided with regular physical therapy.

Knee surgery can be extremely costly, averaging $12,000 per procedure, when physical therapy can produce the same, if not better, results. At Advance Physical & Aquatic Therapy, professional therapists can provide a variety of therapeutic exercises, strength training and manual therapy techniques to help patients feel less knee pain while avoiding surgery