There has never been a shortage in the number of attractive statistics supporting any type of surgery. Why would ailments related to your knee be any different?
Individuals suffering from knee pain often consult an orthopedic doctor who then usually takes them in for either an X-ray investigation or an MRI, depending on the patient’s history of course. The reports generally reveal degenerative changes or ligament tears. The obvious prescription for this – Knee Surgery. Little do people know that surgery for most of these cases is very much avoidable.
“Knee surgeries are 95% successful,” articles say, but what is success in terms of healthcare? Is it a Reduction of pain? Reduction of discomfort? Is it to improve one’s quality of life? Numerous studies have found that surgery for meniscal tears is no better than a placebo, or fake surgery. How surprising is that?
What if I tell you that if you tear your meniscus, you won’t feel any pain at all? The meniscus in your knee does not have any nerves, therefore not causing you pain or discomfort upon injury to it. Knee pain due to osteoarthritis often fluctuates in severity and patients tend to present for treatment when their pain is most severe. Any treatment administered at this stage will appear effective, in spite of its actual role in recovery. What does this tell us? It tells us that success in surgery is not very well defined.
There’s no need for surgery to be the last word when it comes to knee-related injuries. Reduction of pain can be done with the use of multiple other approaches such as physical therapy and biomechanical studies. It’s our human tendency to often want quick fixes to our problems that make us jump on the surgical bandwagon.
Another common surgical procedure that has been marked unnecessary by numerous research papers is knee arthroscopy. The first high-quality trial to demonstrate knee arthroscopy was no better than a placebo surgery which was published in 2002. Nevertheless, overuse of knee arthroscopy has persisted to date. Despite the desire for this procedure to work, arthroscopy for degenerative knee conditions puts patients at risk of harm, including death, for no proportionate benefits.
How can this be stopped? Well, unfortunately, it is easier said than done. Changing people’s perspectives is tough, and usually not possible without those involved having an open mind. Doctors tend to overestimate how good their treatments are and underestimate the harms that come from them. Statistics and proof aren’t proving to be of much help either. The reason why surgeries still opt over alternative treatment is nothing but prejudice and fear. Long-term treatment is often avoided because individuals want to save time, but little do they know about the harm surgery may bring to them. It is high time that we realize the need to revise our overdependence on futile surgeries and turn to more proactive approaches.