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Exercise as effective as surgery for common knee injury

Researchers recommend supervised exercise therapy for knee injuries
Knee exercises

Supervised exercise therapy should be considered as a treatment option for middle-aged patients with meniscal tears, say researchers

Photo: SPL

The team from Denmark and Norway, who studied 140 adults with degenerative meniscal tears, say exercise therapy is just as effective as surgery for treating the common knee injury, caused by damage to the discs that cushion the knee joint.

In a randomised controlled trial, half the patients received a supervised exercise programme two to three sessions a week over 12 weeks and the rest received arthroscopic surgery followed by simple daily exercises to be performed at home.

Almost all of the study participants (96%) had no definitive X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis. Thigh muscle strength was assessed at three months and patient-reported knee function was recorded at two years.

Improved muscle strength

The researchers found no clinically relevant difference between the two

...

Supervised exercise therapy should be considered as a treatment option for middle-aged patients with meniscal tears, say researchers 


Photo: SPL

The team from Denmark and Norway, who studied 140 adults with degenerative meniscal tears, say exercise therapy is just as effective as surgery for treating the common knee injury, caused by damage to the discs that cushion the knee joint. 

In a randomised controlled trial, half the patients received a supervised exercise programme – two to three sessions a week over 12 weeks – and the rest received arthroscopic surgery followed by simple daily exercises to be performed at home. 

Almost all of the study participants (96%) had no definitive X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis. Thigh muscle strength was assessed at three months and patient-reported knee function was recorded at two years. 

Improved muscle strength

The researchers found no clinically relevant difference between the two groups for outcomes including pain, function in sport and recreation, and knee-related quality of life. At three months, muscle strength had improved in the exercise group. 

‘Our results should encourage clinicians and middle-aged patients with degenerative meniscal tear and no radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis to consider supervised structured exercise therapy as a treatment option,’ the study authors said. 

Kise NJ et al (2016) Exercise therapy versus arthroscopic partial meniscectomy for degenerative meniscal tear in middle aged patients: randomised controlled trial with two year follow-up. BMJ.
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i3740 

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