Physical therapy works as well as surgery for healing degenerative meniscal tears in the knee, an injury related to tissue aging that can lead to osteoarthritis.
In a recent study, more than 270,000 people ages 45 to 70 with meniscal tears either had surgery to repair the damage or underwent 16 half-hour sessions with a physical therapist over an eight-week period. The sessions included exercises like calf raises, leg presses, lunges, stair walking, and balancing on a wobble board. Researchers did routine follow-ups for five years. Over all, improvement in knee function and risk of developing knee osteoarthritis were similar regardless of whether people had physical therapy or surgery.
According to the investigators, the findings support physical therapy as an effective alternative for people with meniscal tears, especially for those concerned about surgery's costs and possible complications. The results were published online July 8, 2022, by JAMA Network Open.
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