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Arthroscopic Surgery May Not Help Osteoarthritis of the Knee


A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, states that arthroscopic knee surgery does not alleviate the symptoms you may experience with osteoarthritis of the knee.  Arthroscopic knee surgery is the most common orthopedic knee surgery, in which a small camera is fed through an incision in the knee to remove damaged or torn cartilage.  This procedure is meant to extract the fragments of cartilage that are causing the pain and stiffness in the knee, and to smooth those surfaces to provide comfort and relief.  The study suggests that arthroscopic surgery should be the last course of action, after a regimen of physical therapy and painkillers (or supplements) have been evaluated.

The study was performed by researchers at the University of Ontario in Canada, where they evaluated 178 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.  All of the patients were an average of 60 years of age.  The team performed arthroscopic knee surgery on half of the subjects, and all of the individuals received physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen or acetaminophen).  The individuals were evaluated after two years on this plan.  The researchers found that there was no apparent difference between the two groups- those that had the surgery and those that did not.  The arthroscopic surgery did not improve the mobility and function of the joint, anymore than the individuals on physical therapy and medication alone.

You should always talk with your doctor about all of your options before you have a surgical procedure.  It has been mentioned that MRI testing has allowed doctors to over-perform surgical procedures like arthroscopy.  Your doctor may want you try a supplement with Glucosamine and Chondroitin first, like Synflex®, and to start a moderate exercise program.  Physical therapy may also be very beneficial, as your progress will be monitored and the therapy can be adjusted if you do not begin to see signs of improvement.  Arthroscopy is beneficial in some conditions of the knee, but you should be aware of its relationship to osteoarthritis, and the risks.

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