Is Surgery or Physical Therapy Better for Your Torn Knee Meniscus?

The results of an in-depth study may surprise you
By Lily Beltran
Is Surgery or Physical Therapy Better for Your Torn Knee Meniscus?

Do you use step counters and calorie trackers to lose weight? Take fish oil to prevent heart disease and ginkgo biloba to preserve your memory? Are you considering surgery to fix your torn knee meniscus?

According to researchers, it’s time to rethink these and hundreds of other traditional medical practices. A review of more than 3,000 studies published in leading journals found that more than 10 percent of them contradicted conventional wisdom.

“You come away with a sense of humility,” Dr. Vinay Prasad of Oregon Health and Sciences University, who came up with the study, told The New York Times. “Very smart and well-intentioned people came to practice these things for many, many years. But they were wrong.”

So...How Do I Fix My Knee?

If you have a torn knee meniscus from osteoarthritis or a sports injury, you know what pain feels like—especially as inflammation sets in. You may want to treat it right away with surgery, but other options such as physical therapy might be a better choice to start. 

The New York Times cites a study in which patients with a torn meniscus and moderate arthritis were randomized to six months of physical therapy or surgery. The results? Both groups improved—and to the same degree.

How Physical Therapy Helps with Knee Problems

Keeping your knees healthy is especially challenging—yet critical—as you age or are active in sports. Physical therapy can ease knee pain and help you heal from injuries such as a torn meniscus or ACL.

PT for knee pain starts with locating and identifying its cause. You may feel pain in the front, back, inside, or outside of the knee, and treatment differs depending on the location of this pain. To develop an appropriate treatment program, your physical therapist will perform a gait evaluation, range of motion measurements, strength measurements, and a balance assessment. Then your PT will guide you through stretching, strengthening, and balancing exercises.

For a torn ACL or meniscus, your physical therapist can develop a personalized plan to help you regain normal mobility, control pain, manage swelling, and prevent further injury. Many patients are able to avoid surgery with a focused and well-rounded PT program.

Heal Faster with On-Demand Physical Therapy

It can take rigorous, consistent treatment to heal from serious knee injuries. That’s where on-demand physical therapy can help. You receive 45 to 55 minutes of one-on-one attention from a board-certified physical therapist, versus only 15 to 20 minutes in a clinic. You can start treatment within 48 hours, and the convenience of on-demand PT means you are more likely to finish your course of care.

When it comes to knee injuries, on-demand physical therapy can be the way to go. Check it out