A Randomized Study of Knee Replacement vs. Physical Therapy

October 21, 2015

As the world becomes older and more obese, the need for total knee replacement grows markedly. Does it make sense? Is knee replacement surgery beneficial?

A study coming out in tomorrow's New England Journal of Medicine has found that compared with physical therapy, total knee replacement is associated with significantly less knee pain. The study randomized 95 patients to one of two arms, although there was some cross-over that may have blurred some of the differences. The study certainly does not answer all questions related to the benefits of knee replacement. For example, were some of the observed effects due to change in shoe insole, diet, and so on. Still, considering the gravity of the obesity epidemic and need for joint reconstruction generally, it does seem very helpful to have at least one very well conducted study in hand that objectively validates and quantifies the impressions of orthopedic surgeons that knee replacement is associated with clear, measurable symptomatic relief as relates to pain, symptoms, activities of daily living, and quality of life.

The study also found adverse events associated with knee surgery. This would be expected with any surgery, for which reason any patient who heads for surgery would do well to be sure to find a very highly qualified surgeon. A qualified surgeon not only operates well, but also has good, solid judgment about who needs surgery and which technique is most appropriate. This judgment and skill helps to reduce objective data to success at the bedside.

Click the video below to learn about Surgeo's approach to delivering flat-fee knee replacement surgery packages.


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