In the clinic, we see hundreds of patients with knee pain each year. Most avoid surgery, some have surgery because they require it and others (believe it or not) have surgery that could have been avoided.
It’s the latter group that I want to talk to you about today, because could you imagine having knee surgery you don’t need? The cost, the risk, and more often than not the poor outcome is something no one should face unnecessarily.
Often the knee pain is caused by a degenerative meniscal tear or osteoarthritis. The meniscus is a soft, pliable structure in the knee that acts as a shock absorber, and sometimes over time it can become worn, much like we get wrinkles and grey hair. Osteoarthritis is when the whole joint, meniscus, cartilage, bone and muscles start to become worn out. In times gone past orthopaedic surgeons would readily operate on these tears with arthroscopes our "clean outs" and for osteoarthritis, they would recommend knee replacements. However, in more recent times with access to more studies and long term outcome data, there has been a trend to conservatively manage these injuries. The gold standard (ie the first line of treatment) for these injuries is a comprehensive exercise program. This option of conservative treatment is endorsed by the Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
Physiotherapy is the mainstay of conservative management, focusing on graded strength work to build the muscles around your knee which will take pressure off the injury. This allows for regeneration and more importantly, prevention of further injury.
If you're seeing an orthopedic surgeon for an opinion on knee surgery we recommend you see a surgeon who only looks after knees. It makes sense to see a knee specialist, would you trust a marine mechanic with your family car?
So there are 2 key things you should be asking yourself before having surgery for your degenerative meniscal tear or osteoarthritis:
1. Have I done 8-12 weeks of graded strength work through a physiotherapy exercise rehabilitation program?
2. Have I spoken with a well respected orthopaedic surgeon that ONLY looks after knees?
Should you have any questions please feel free to call us on 0411 690 484, reply to this email or simply drop into our clinic in person. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
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