Recently a patient brought me a newspaper article that talked about the difference between doing surgery and physical therapy for a mensicus tear in the knee. Not surprisingly, she was in this predicament herself as she had been diagnosed with a meniscus tear and was wondering if PT was going to help or if she should have surgery done.
This is a common question that we address here. Meniscal injuries are quite a regular occurrence in sports due to the cutting and pivoting demands of the activity. Physical therapy is often prescribed prior to doing surgery, and sometimes people are upset as they figure if there is a tear, then just go in and fix it. The recently published study referenced in the newspaper article found that there was not a big difference in outcomes at 6 and 12 months for patients who had surgery or those who only did a comprehensive PT program.
If you look only at those results, it would make sense that doing PT is a good option at a significantly decreased cost to the patient and insurance companies. As a PT, I like these results. It will help me to answer my patients' questions and be able to justify what I do.
However, it is important to note that this study does have some flaws to it, and we can't make too many generalizations from it. If we do, then some patients may not get the appropriate care that they need. There are many factors to consider and because of this, a team approach with an orthopaedic surgeon, physical therapists and the patient, should guide the decision, rather than basing it solely on the public opinion from a newspaper article.
Posted 5:33 PM