Should you get meniscus surgery, or is there a better option? Knee meniscus surgery, or menisectomy, is the most common orthopedic surgery in the United States. More than 700,000 surgeries are performed each year at a cost of over $4 billion. These surgeries are usually performed when a patient has persistent knee pain and there is evidence of a meniscus tear on their MRI. Most meniscus patients initially consider surgery expecting to repair their torn meniscus. But a recent study showed that only four in 100 knee surgeries on the meniscus was a repair.
That's because the meniscus is very difficult to repair by sewing pieces of it back together, and much of the meniscus lacks a sufficient blood supply to help the repair heal. So what are the other 96% getting? In this large group of patients, some or all of the meniscus is being surgically removed, and some patients may wake up from their surgery to the news that even more of their meniscus was removed than they had expected. So what happens when you remove all or parts of the meniscus? Since the meniscus is an important shock absorber for the knee, this leaves the patient with less protection for the cartilage and bone. In fact, studies show that removing up to 10% of the meniscus can increase joint stress by about 70%. And for those with larger tears requiring the removal of 50% of the meniscus or more, these forces within the knee joint increase at a staggering rate.
For this reason, meniscus surgeries may begin a degenerative cascade, leading to earlier onset of knee osteoarthritis and an increased likelihood of knee replacement surgeries. Right now, you may be thinking to yourself, but if it's the most common orthopedic surgery, it must be effective at solving knee pain, right? Well, a series of very high-quality studies has questioned how effective knee meniscus surgery is at relieving long-term knee pain. Two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that outcomes from smaller menisectomies, the most common type of cleanup knee surgeries for meniscus tears, were no better than fake surgery. Another recent large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that knee meniscus tears in middle-aged and older adults were extremely common and are found in both patients with and without knee pain.
In 2013, another study compared physical therapy alone to knee meniscus surgery and found that surgery was no better than physical therapy at reducing knee pain. So if you have a torn meniscus that's causing pain, what else can you do? Since there is no scientific evidence that knee meniscus surgery helps patients, it seems like common sense to try to avoid this invasive surgery whenever possible. Regenexx procedures have helped people like you avoid invasive surgery, using a precise injection of their own stem cells or blood platelets directly into the meniscus tear to promote healing. So if you have a meniscus tear that's slowing you down, consider the nation's most advanced stem cell and blood platelet procedures to help you avoid surgery and get back to doing the things you love.
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