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Surgery Not Always Necessary for Meniscal Tears

Researchers suggest exercise will work on its own

THURSDAY, July 21, 2016 (HealthDay News) — In many cases of meniscal tear, exercise may work just as well as surgery in middle-aged patients, according to a study published online July 20 in The BMJ.

Nina Jullum Kise, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Martina Hansens Hospital in Sandvika, Norway, and colleagues tracked outcomes for 140 patients. These patients averaged 50 years of age and had degenerative meniscal tears, largely without any signs of arthritis. Half of the patients performed two to three supervised exercise sessions a week for three months, while the other half underwent arthroscopic surgery, followed by simple daily exercises at home.

After three months, thigh strength improved in the exercise group, but not in the surgery group, the researchers found. After two years, pain, sports and recreation function, and knee-related quality of life were similar for both groups. Thirteen (19 percent) of the patients in the exercise group also underwent knee surgery during the study follow-up period, but it did not provide them with any additional benefits.

“Our results should encourage clinicians and middle aged patients with degenerative meniscal tear and no definitive radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis to consider supervised exercise therapy as a treatment option,” the authors write.

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