Is Knee Surgery More Risk Than It’s Worth?

According to a recent report from NBC News, one of the most common types of orthopedic knee surgery may not be worth the trouble for middle-aged patients. While offering short term pain relief, many studies on arthroscopic knee surgery find dangerous side-effects down the road, like infection and blood clots. The British Medical Journal claims weight loss and exercise may be a better path of treatment for tired knees.

Worldwide, more than 1.5 billion people suffer from chronic pain, and more than four million knee arthroscopy procedures are performed every year. Jonas Bloch Thorlund of the University of Southern Denmark stated in a recent report that “the small, inconsequential benefit seen from interventions that include arthroscopy for the degenerative knee is limited in time and absent at one to two years after surgery.”

He continued, “When we analyzed pain for different postoperative time points, the benefit favoring arthroscopic surgery was present only at three and six months, but not at later time points… Harms included symptomatic deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, infection, and death.”

Many specialists are concluding that knee pain can be treated without surgery. Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston believes that it’s actually obesity that causes much of the strain. “Obesity causes increased load on the muscles and joints. The knee joint feels five times body weight each step we take — so a weight loss of even five pounds can feel like a 25-pound weight loss to your knee.” In short, skip the surgery, and start taking the stairs.

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