Osteoarthritis of the knee affects millions of you.  The pain from knee arthritis can be mild or quite severe and crippling.  Arthroscopic knee surgery is often discussed  as a treatment option when you have arthritis AND a meniscus tear in combination.  But this is a very controversial area, and it’s important that you understand what your realistic options are.  There was a recent article in the NY Times which unfortunately provided more misleading information.   I think that the article (referenced below) did not present the subject matter well since there are a subset of arthritic patients who do very well after arthroscopic surgery.

Any active readers of my blog know that I strongly believe we are an over-diagnosed and over-treated society.  But, articles such as the one quoted below can be very misleading and require clarification. First the video …

From the NY Times piece…

…People in their 50s and older often get arthroscopic surgery for knee pain, but a new review of studies suggests that it has serious risks and no lasting benefits.

Source: Surgery for Knee Pain May Not Provide Benefits – The New York Times

Now .. let’s be clear.  Arthroscopic surgery for arthritic symptoms… that dull throbbing awful ache is generally not successful.. and very arthritic knee are cranky and do not appreciate being operated on unless they are being replaced.

The patient who MIGHT benefit from arthroscopic surgery is the arthritic patient who also has a meniscus tear AND also has mechanical symptoms –

  • popping
  • locking
  • sharp pains with turning
  • buckling and giving way.

As you can see by the comments at the end of the NY Times article there are many people who are very happy that they chose to have surgery.  They remain active years after the surgery.  The key here is proper patient selection, and managing expectations.

Disclaimer:  this information is for your education and should not be considered medical advice regarding diagnosis or treatment recommendations. Some links on this page may be affiliate links. Read the full disclaimer.

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About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr. Howard Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very "social" patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision-making principles – all geared to improve your quality of life.

One comment on “Is Surgery For a Degenerative Knee Successful? Getting the Story Right.

  • Dr Luks – Do you have data to support your assertions? I agree that the NY Times article is misleading, but in order to counteract this, we need quality data. -Mark Deitch, MD, MBA

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