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Posted on 02 August 2016 by Ian Orr
Tags: Exercise, Pain relief

Exercise - a better cure for knee pain than surgery

History repeats itself as researchers yet again show how 10,000s of knee operations performed every year in the UK would produce no better results than an exercise programme, which could be explained to you by your Willow chiropractor.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) compares two groups of middle aged individuals; those who had a 'repair' procedure to a torn meniscus in their knee to those who carried out a 12-week exercise programme of simple muscle strengthening exercise. After 3 months the non-surgery group was actually performing better. The groups continued to be monitored and after 2 years there was little difference between them. They had the same results when comparing pain and mobility and the ability to do sport.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) compares two groups of middle aged individuals; those who had a 'repair' procedure to a torn meniscus in their knee to those who carried out a 12-week exercise programme of simple muscle strengthening exercise. After 3 months the non-surgery group was actually performing better. The groups continued to be monitored and after 2 years there was little difference between them. They had the same results when comparing pain and mobility and the ability to do sport.

Chiropractors have known this for years, indeed when I was studying for my Masters in Chiropractic back in 2000 I remember reading the results of a similar, recent study which showed no significant difference between a group who had the surgery compared to a group who had had a sham procedure. Another study published in 2013 in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine showed no difference between a group who had surgery and one which had a sham procedure when in both cases all the participants had degenerative knee meniscal tears. 

In 2013 it was estimated that 700,000 of these types of operations were being performed annually in the USA at an expense of $4 Billion. This year over 150,000 Britons will undergo arthroscopic keyhole surgery at a cost of £10s of millions to the cash strapped NHS and taxpayer, many of which will be ineffective and carry some element of risk. Indeed, many experts are calling for a change in attitude. Teppo Jarvinen, of the University of Helsinki, and Gordon Guyatt of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada said: 'What we should not do is allow the orthopaedic community... to ignore the results of rigorous trials and continue widespread use of procedures for which there has never been compelling evidence.'  

The Chiropractic philosophy of allowing the body to heal itself without the need for expensive drugs and potentially dangerous surgery would seem to be a far more potent and sensible approach in this scenario and so many others. Even Professor Andy Carr, an expert in orthopaedic surgery at Oxford University, last year called for this keyhole surgery to be scrapped for middle-aged patients, perhaps he too is a chiropractic patient!

I myself suffered a near fatal ski accident whilst skiing off-piste in Switzerland 3 years ago and had reconstruction surgery to both knees and a shoulder. I did however speak at length with my two orthopaedic surgeons about all the surgical options available and after some reflection went ahead with several procedures including arthroscopic meniscal repairs in both knees because of the extensive damage to the surrounding ligaments. Mine was not a typical case. It is thanks to months of pre and post-operative care from colleagues at my clinic that I have got back to running, with full range of movement and strength.

 

 

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