Research says surgery is not the answer to knee osteoarthritis

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee, and your doctor and your friends and family have been putting the pressure on for you to get some arthroscopic knee surgery, this research is food for thought.  Back in 2002, the Baylor College of Medicine did some a study to compare arthroscopic knee surgery with a placebo treatment.  Here’s the conclusion:

In this controlled trial involving patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, the outcomes after arthroscopic lavage or arthroscopic débridement were no better than those after a placebo procedure (emphasis added).

via A controlled trial of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee. [New England Journal of  Medicine 2002]

So what’s that mean?  That means when you undergo arthroscopic knee surgery, you’re getting a $5000 placebo treatment that leads to several weeks of physical therapy, 6 to 8 weeks of gingerly handling your knee, an extended period of time taken off from work and play (assuming you ever get back to your play), and eventually the same chance of feeling better as if you had not bothered getting any surgery at all.

Sound like a good deal?

Get clear on this.  Arthroscopic knee surgery for osteoarthritis is no better than placebo.  You may as well have a friend swap the label on a jar of jelly beans for a label that says “Miracle Knee Pain Cure” and start eating those on a daily basis for three months.

While you’re eating those jelly beans, you may also want to consider restoring the proper balance of the muscles all around the knee joint and up into the hip and down into the ankle so that your knee starts functioning properly!


About the Author

Matt Hsu is a trainer and orthopedic massage therapist. He fought a long battle with chronic pain all over his body and won. He blends the principles he learned in his journey, empirical observations with clients, and relevant research to help others get their lives back.