meniscal tear

Recent research has found that physical therapy (PT) is as good as surgery when it comes to improving movement and reducing pain for some patients with knee arthritis and torn knee cartilage.

Throughout the world, knee osteoarthritis (OA) affects more than 250 million people and is the leading influence to disability. Meniscal tears are also very prevalent with many middle-aged adults. Meniscal damage is especially common among people with osteoarthritis.

In the United States, there are over 450,000 arthroscopic surgeries performed to treat meniscal tears annually.

In this study, printed in New England Journal of Medicine, 351 patients ages over 45 with knee OA and meniscal tear implies that PT may be equal to surgery for some patients. There were no significant differences in the magnitude of improvement in functional status and pain after 6 and 12 months between patients assigned to arthroscopic partial meniscectomy with postoperative physical therapy and patients assigned to a standardized physical-therapy regimen.

However, 30% of patients assigned to the physical-therapy group crossed over to surgery in the first 6 months. This was because they did not respond to the PT.

This study strengthens the standard that if a patient has a degenerative meniscal tear with OA then the first line of treatment ought to be conservative treatment and if the patient doesn’t improve, then surgery is a worthwhile option.

Please call your Chiropractor at AHS on 9948 2826 or visit our clinic at 9/470 Sydney Rd in Balgowlah servicing the surrounding suburbs of Allambie, Balgowlah Heights, Seaforth, Fairlight and Manly on the Northern Beaches.


  1. Katz J, Brophy R. Physical Therapy as Effective as Surgery for Meniscal Tear, n engl j med; 2013;1-10
  2. Herrlin S, Hållander M, Wange P, Weidenhielm L, Werner S. Arthroscopic or conservative treatment of degenerative medial meniscal tears: a prospective randomised trial. Knee Surg Sports Trauma- tol Arthrosc 2007;15:393-401.

Photo Credit: Becky Stern