Don’t go under the knife without reading this first
When it comes to chronic knee pain, the decision to have surgery or not is one that hundreds of patients face every day. And needless to say, it’s not one you want to take lightly.
In fact, I almost always urge my patients to try something else—anything else—before they even consider surgery. So I certainly don’t need a study to tell me that a conservative approach is the wisest path.
But your typical surgeon looking to make a quick buck won’t always offer the same advice. So when a study like this does come along, you better believe I’m going to share it. Because these are facts that every patient considering going under the knife needs to hear.
No better than nonsurgical alternatives
This study looked at middle-aged and older adults with meniscal tears and knee pain who were considering arthroscopic partial meniscectomy (APM)—an outpatient surgery where part of the meniscus is removed.
Researchers analyzed data from ten different clinical trials, comparing results between APM and nonsurgical alternatives (including exercise and medication). And when all was said and done, surgery was no more effective at boosting physical function… and only offered modest pain relief.1
To be clear, it’s not that I’m completely against surgery. I simply believe it warrants a lot more deliberation than it typically gets.
And while APM isn’t particularly invasive—that doesn’t mean it’s risk-free. For one thing, anesthesia is involved, which can affect your memory.2 Not to mention all of the other accompanying potential complications, like allergic reactions or breathing problems.
But APM can actually damage the knee, too. (Yes, you read that right. The surgery to “correct” your knee may in fact cause further damage to the joint.) It could also cause blood clots to develop in your leg… and I don’t think I have to explain how dangerous those can be.
It’s also worth noting that this study focused on a specific group of patients over the age of 50. In a lot of cases, the offending injuries happened years earlier. So I’d be willing to bet that younger patients fare even better with alternatives to surgery.
Try prolotherapy for long-term pain relief
I must add that these studies didn’t even look at some of my favorite nonsurgical options. For instance, research shows certain supplements can help repair and rebuild cartilage—like Perna, which comes from green-lipped mussels.
I like a one-of-a-kind formulation from New Zealand called GlycOmega Oil™. It’s the only Perna product on the market that also contains 30 different essential fatty acids, including the all-important omega-3s DHA and EPA. You can learn more about GlycOmega Oil™ by heading over to my website, www.DrPescatore.com, and browsing the “shop” tab!
And then there’s prolotherapy—which uses repeated injections to trigger tissue repair.
In fact, when I was first starting my medical career, I was able to work alongside a brilliant doctor who used prolotherapy. He attended to one of my patients who was (and still is) a major judo aficionado. (If you’re not familiar with it, judo is a type of martial art.)
After a series of six injections, my patient was pain-free. And only now—25 years later, and still practicing judo daily—does he need to have it done again.
To explore prolotherapy as an option for your knee pain, you’ll need to see a holistic doctor who focuses on chronic pain management, like an osteopath. If you don’t already have one, the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) is a great resource for locating an experienced holistic practitioner in your area. Simply type your zip code into their search engine at www.acam.org to find a list of physicians near you.
But in the meantime, you should know that there are effective strategies for addressing knee pain that don’t involve injections (or pills) of any kind. And the most effective option is so simple it might shock you…
Ten percent is all it takes
Results of a recent study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association showed that overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis can significantly reduce knee pain and boost function. All they have to do is lose weight.
According to this study, the benefits of weight loss are dose-dependent. Which means that the greatest payoff came to people who lost at least 10 percent of their body weight. Compared to those who lost less, the 10 percenters had a significant edge when it came to decreasing pain and inflammation, and increasing everyday function.
As usual, combining diet and exercise was more effective than using either strategy alone. Sure, all study participants who lost weight enjoyed pain reductions in the first six months. But in the long run, patients who engaged in both diet and exercise interventions showed less inflammation, less pain, more function and mobility, and better overall quality of life.
By 18 months into the study, the diet-and-exercise group cut their knee pain by 50 percent.3 That’s right…in half.
Now, let me break this down for you: Ten percent of a 200-pound person’s body weight is just 20 pounds. For a 300-pound person, that’s 30 pounds. And we’re talking a mere 15 pounds for a 150-pound person. All of which are very realistic and achievable goals for just about anyone.
I always recommend moderate, consistent exercise—like taking a daily 30-minute walk. And following a delicious, Mediterranean-style diet. Which means eating more omega-3s, veggies, fruits, nuts, and lean proteins—and cutting out refined grains, bad fats, and sugar. But if you’re not sure where to begin, that’s where my A-List Diet comes in.
All you have to do is head over to the A-List website (www.AListDietBook.com) to order a copy today. You can also find a copy in most major book retailers!
In other words, shed the pounds—and shed the pain. Clearly, it doesn’t take much to make a major difference to your quality of life.
Because if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: When it comes to chronic pain, surgery isn’t your only—or even your best—option for relief.
1. Abram SGF, et al. “Arthroscopic partial meniscectomy for meniscal tears of the knee: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Br J Sports Med. 2019 Feb 22.
2. Chen PL, et al. “Risk of dementia after anaesthesia and surgery.” Br J Psychiatry. 2014 Mar;204(3):188-193
3. Messier SP, et al. “Effects of intensive diet and exercise on knee joint loads, inflammation, and clinical outcomes among overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis: the IDEA randomized clinical trial.” JAMA. 2013 Sep 25;310(12):1263-73.