One of the most common kinds of knee surgery might not be such a good idea, new research suggests.
Knee cartilage called the meniscus (there are two in each knee) are easily torn when the knee is twisted or rotated forcefully, especially during weight-bearing activity such as basketball or soccer. Surgically repairing the tears in these joint shock absorbers is supposed to reduce pain and improve joint mobility and strength.
But according to HealthDay News, meniscal tear operations might increase the chances of arthritis.
Researchers, who presented their study last month at a conference of the Radiological Society of North America, compared MRI scans of 355 knees with arthritis with a similar number of knees without arthritis. The patients’ average age was 60, and most were overweight.
All 31 knees that were repaired surgically for meniscal tears developed arthritis within a year, compared with only about 6 in 10 knees with meniscal damage that did not have surgery.
More than 8 in 10 of the knees undergoing surgery showed a loss of cartilage, but only about half that many knees with meniscal damage that didn’t have surgery showed a loss of cartilage.
So despite its frequency, surgical repair of a torn meniscus might not be a good idea. If your doctor advises surgery for your torn knee cartilage, you should discuss other options such as icing, anti-inflammatory medicine and physical therapy.
As Dr. Frank Roemer, the study’s author, said in a news release, “The indications for meniscal surgery might need to be discussed more carefully in order to avoid accelerated knee joint degeneration.”