THURSDAY SEP 11, 2008 (foodconsumer.org) -- The routine
knee surgery neither provides any pain relief nor improves knee function in
patients with knee osteoarthritis, according to a new study published in the
Sep. 11th issue of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
"This study provides definitive evidence that
arthroscopic surgery provides no additional therapeutic value when added to
physical therapy and medication for patients with moderate osteoarthritis of
the knee," said study co-author Dr. Brian Feagan, Clinical Trials Director
at the Robarts Research Institute and professor of Schulich School of Medicine
& Dentistry at The University of Western Ontario.
Osteoarthritis affects an estimated 27 million Americans
and one in every ten Canadians. Knee osteoarthritis leads to 418,000 knee
replacement procedures annually and in 2006 accounted for 496,000 hospital
discharges and spent $19 billion in hospital charges, according to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study followed for two years 178 men and women at an
average of 60 who lived in London, Canada and had moderate to severe
osteoarthritis of the knee.
received physical therapy and medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
and 86 percent of them also received surgery consisting of lavage and
The researchers found all patients improved their
condition with regard to joint pain, stiffness, and function.
But surgery did not offer any additional
Although the study did not show benefits of arthroscopic
debridement, study co-author Dr. Bob Litchfield, the Medical Director of the
Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic said "knee arthroscopy is still
beneficial in many other conditions affecting the knee, such as meniscal repair
and resection, and ligament reconstruction."
A press release by University of Western Ontario states a
2002 study shows similar results, but got dismissed by the medical community
and arthroscopic surgery is still commonly performed on patients with
osteoarthritis of the knee to remove cartilage fragments and smoothes the joint
surfaces in an effort to relieve joint pain and stiffness.
"The Moseley study was published in the New England
Journal of Medicine in 2002. Many orthopedic surgeons did not accept the result
and there were many criticisms of the methodology used in that trial"
because the study only included older men, said Dr. Feagan. The current study
included both men and women to demonstrate that the previous findings are
applicable to both men and women.
"I would hope that evidence-based medicine is
embraced by everyone, particularly health care providers. We need to know when
things are working and when they're not," said Litchfield.
Those who do not want to use too much of medications may
consider using some alternative medicine.
A new study published in the August 2008 issue of journal
of Phytotherapy Research, showed Pycnogenol, bark extract from the French
maritime pine tree, reduced overall knee osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms by 20.9
percent and pain by 40.3 percent.
Dr. Peter Rohdewald, one of the researchers of the study,
of Slovakia's Comenius University School of Medicine said "The pain is
gradually decreasing during the course of three months treatment with
Pycnogenol. An improvement is found after the first month and a further
improvement is seen after two months."
There are other ways to help control knee osteoarthritis.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends the
following, cited in verbatim from a press release:
• Learn techniques to manage your arthritis. Participate
in the Arthritis Foundation Self-Help Program, a self-management course that
teaches people with arthritis how to manage the pain and challenges that
arthritis imposes. The course has been shown to lead to a 40% reduction in
• Control weight. For those already living with symptoms,
losing 15 pounds can cut knee pain in half. Maintaining a healthy weight also
can lower a person’s risk of osteoarthritis. In fact, one study showed that
women who lost as little as 11 pounds halved their risk of developing knee
osteoarthritis and its accompanying joint pain.
• Get active. Many people think that physical activity
can worsen arthritis. Nothing could be further from the truth. Physical
activity can help decrease symptoms of osteoarthritis.
In addition, physical activity is an important component
of weight control and helps maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints. For
joint-safe exercise programs, try the Arthritis Foundation’s Life Improvement
Series land or water exercise programs.
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