• Does Your Knee Really Need Surgery?

    November 25, 2019 | Knee | Physiosteps
  • Often our body’s resilience and ability to adapt is forgotten or ignored for the perceived quick-fix.

    This is particularly the case when it comes to knee injuries such as Meniscus injuries and Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) ruptures where in Australasia they are operated on far more than they need to be.

    In Australia for example, around 90% of ACL ruptures are operated on, despite research showing at least 1/3 (likely more) of those can cope without an ACL and even more than that, there is emerging evidence that ACL’s, like a lot of other ligaments, do heal in some cases.

    So how do you know if you need surgery?

    It’s pretty simple really and the Scandinavians do it really well. First, trial at least 3-6 months of solid rehab which involves regaining range and building up strength and control as much as possible. That not only improves you knee strength and stability but weirdly enough, it also gives your knee time to settle and heal!

    The Scandinavian model of care encourages early physio rehab as the primary treatment option for 3-6 months which they term “worlds best practice”. Subsequently their rates of ACL reconstruction surgery are much lower at around 50%. That’s a huge difference and just shows the amount of surgery that could be avoided if more rehab was encouraged and stuck to for 3-6 months. It would also save the health system a heck o a lot of money as that saves almost $22,000 (that’s in Australia anyway, I couldn’t find the NZ stats) if surgery isn’t needed!

    Similar results happen with many knee injuries, whether it meniscus tears or collateral ligament injuries, if solid active rehab is stuck to for 3-6 months, there is a chance you may not need surgery so whether you have injured your knee or have pain from OA – choose physio first. Get a good rehab program set up and gradually load it the right way right to build strength and improve function. If after 3-6 months of persevering and really giving it a good shot, that’s when you may need to see a specialist.

    Disclaimer! Yes, some knee injuries still need surgery, particularly if they are locking up etc but your physio can guide you on this.