While today’s topic isn’t anything new, it’s certainly newsworthy. Because when it comes to chronic knee pain, making a decision whether or not to have surgery is one that a lot of patients face.
In cases like these, I almost always urge my patients to try something else—anything else—before they even consider going through with surgery. And such alternatives range from injection therapies like prolotherapy, prolozone, and hylaruonic acid, to plain old physical therapy.
So I certainly don’t need a study to tell me that a conservative approach is the wisest path. But when one comes along, you better believe I’m going to share it…
No better than nonsurgical alternatives
Specifically, the 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… while offering only modest pain relief.
I must add that these studies didn’t even look at some of my favorite nonsurgical options, like prolotherapy—which uses repeated injections to trigger tissue repair—or hyaluronic acid injections. And I really don’t understand why. Because while the former is still considered “alternative,” the latter is now widely used, despite being fairly new.
I discussed hyaluronic acid in the December 2015 issue of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“Brand new joint breakthrough!”). Not a subscriber? Now’s the perfect time to get started. Click here now!
Of course, the simple answer is that surgery costs more than an injection, so obviously doctors are going to prefer that solution. (Pardon me if almost 30 years in the medical profession has made me a tad cynical.)
But think about it: About four million people get knee surgeries every year. And that adds up to a whole lot of easy profit for just about everyone but the patient.
Even minor surgery has risks
To be clear, it’s not that I’m completely against surgery. I simply believe it warrants a lot more deliberation than it usually gets.
And while APM isn’t particularly invasive—that doesn’t mean it’s risk-free. For one thing, anesthesia is involved, along with all the 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 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.
In fact, when I was first starting out, I was able to work alongside a brilliant doctor who used prolotherapy long before it was popular. (Although to be fair, it’s not particularly popular, even now.) He attended to one of my patients who was (and still is) a major judo aficionado.
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.
When stories like this are no longer the exception, but the rule, we’ll be getting somewhere. Until then, all I can do is urge you to think twice times before you take a surgeon’s very predictable (and ultimately worthless) advice.
P.S. Living with chronic pain might feel like endless torture. But you don’t have to live that way. In fact, in my Pain-Free Life Protocol, I’ve developed an all-natural plan to relieve and eliminate any type of acute or chronic pain—without the use of harmful drugs or unnecessary (and often dangerous) surgeries. Click here to learn more about this unique online learning tool, or sign up today.
“Knee surgery for torn cartilage may not be worthwhile.” Reuters, 03/07/2019. (reuters.com/article/us-health-knee-meniscus/knee-surgery-for-torn-cartilage-may-not-be-worthwhile-idUSKCN1QO2IF)