A patient of mine in his middle age suffered a recent knee injury. A meniscus tear and possible arthritis were detected in the MRI which was taken right away.
A well reputed orthopedic surgeon suggested surgery but given the long-standing nature of our client, practitioner relationship, he consulted with me as well. Like others before him, he was alarmed to find out that these troublesome procedures are not even effective!
Why, with all the research that continues to point to the detrimental effects of meniscus repair, is this invasive procedure still recommended?
Further, why is it still covered by insurance?
Research Holds The Answers:
It is hard to imagine that one of the most meticulously studied procedures today is meniscus repair.
There is an excess of five, cutting edge and large scale controlled research studies that prove it is ineffective. The latest of these further established an already proven point.
The effects of surgery to treat a degenerative meniscus tear—the same kind mentioned at the start of this article—were compared with that of physical therapy (PT) to address the same.
PT proved successful for 4 out of 5 of the patients that tried it. On the flip side, the 19% of patients who PT did not help opted for surgery; it did not improve their situation in the least.
Such research just further backs the notion that physical therapy is more effective than acute meniscus tear surgery. Debridement offers a placebo effect at best and if suffering from a locking meniscus, you may be better off without surgery than with.
It is quite obvious that regardless of what angle meniscus surgery is researched from, it is proven to be redundant, ineffective and detrimental time and time again.
What about my Patients?
An article in a 2016 issue of the NY times beautifully covers the phenomenon of continued offers of various detrimental and ineffective surgeries regardless of what even the most cutting edge and vast research shows. What we do know, is that the minute insurance pulls support for such procedures, surgeons will stop offering the treatment! What we don’t know is when they intend to do this!
One major obstacle to such change is the large number of beneficiaries earning revenue through such procedures and their promotion. Such parties vehemently oppose withdrawing their support of these clearly damaging methods.
One hypothetical; being a common procedure in the U.S., not performing meniscus surgeries would result in a reduction in approximately 400,000 orthopedic procedures, dropping hospital earnings by billions. Budgets would be revised and finances re-distributed. Last, but not least, the hundreds of companies that sell surgery backing equipment would go into a loss. In other words, the medical industry would feel quite the pinch.
How soon before we are done with such redundant procedures as meniscus surgery? I’d say not too long, a year at best! Certain European National Health Systems are already looking into pulling support.
The takeaway? The only answer to the question whether or not meniscus surgery works is; “No! Not at all, not in any way”. It has failed time and time again to produce the desired results proving it’s self to be a sham through numerous reliable studies. To close, I’d like to urge my orthopedic peers to refrain from misguiding patients!
Learn more about stem cell injection options as an alternative to meniscus surgery.
*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Well Life Regenerative Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.