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Arthroscopies on the Decline
It has always been our belief that in most cases arthroscopic surgery causes more harm than good. It is labeled as “minimally invasive” in that it is performed with a miniature camera placed through a hole into the interior of a joint, allowing the surgeon to view the damaged joint. Surgeons can then view the joint or even perform various procedures to shave, remove or “correct” various tissues and structures. One thing is for sure, an arthroscopy guarantees removal of tissue, leading to instability and further damage and arthritis in the joint.
The most common arthroscopy performed is a knee arthroscopy. The number of knee arthroscopies peaked in 2001. Interestingly, in 2002, a randomized controlled trial involving arthroscopies was published and widely read among surgeons. The study compared arthroscopic surgeries for osteoarthritis to “sham” surgeries, or fake surgeries used as a control. The results showed no efficacy in arthroscopic surgery and challenged the use of this type of surgery for osteoarthritis. What was the result of the peak in knee arthroscopies? A group of researchers at the Cleveland Clinic set out to answer this question.1 After a review of the database for the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, they found a significant decrease in the number of knee arthroscopy cases. There was an approximate 40% decrease from 2001 to 2009. Chondroplasties decreased, arthroscopic cases per surgeon decreased, and the percentage of knee arthroscopy as total orthopaedic cases decreased. It looks like orthopedists are getting them message that arthroscopies do not work for arthritis.
Why didn’t the numbers go down even further? Arthroscopy doesn’t work for arthritis and that is the number one reason people still get arthroscopies. Maybe it’s because orthopedists don’t see any other options to cure knee pain. We wish more orthopedic surgeons knew about the healing potential Prolotherapy has for arthritis and other musculoskeletal injuries. Plain and simple, Prolotherapy repairs the injury while surgery often just removes the injury. In the case of a labral tear or a meniscal tear, surgery just removes the labral tissue or the meniscal tissue. On the other hand, Prolotherapy stimulates the repair of those tissues and offers long term healing. Many surgery patients are shocked to learn that the surgeon took out 20% of their meniscus, or they shaved off a whole bunch of cartilage that is not there anymore. Removal of this vital tissue most likely means aggressive, progressive arthritis in the future. Research is showing that arthroscopy is not the answer. Prolotherapy will stimulate the cartilage cells to repair, leading long-term pain relief and joint health.
1. Potts A, Harrast JJ, Harner CD, Miniaci A, Jones MH. Practice Patterns for Arthroscopy of Osteoarthritis in the United States. Am J Sports Med. 2012 May 4.