Important Warning Why To Reconsider Knee Surgery
It’s the second most common surgery performed in the world. And yet numerous studies have now shown that in the majority of men surgery does not increase rates of healing. However, as with any surgery, this one comes with risks and costs - both in terms of money as well as time and energy.
Read on and I’ll share with you some tips for how to steer clear of this unnecessary surgery. I’ll also give you tips to preserve and improve the health of your knees.
First, I’m going to give you a brief introduction to two of the most types of common knee pain. Then I’ll explain how studies have shown that surgery for these types of pain isn’t effective.
Osteoarthritis of the knees is one of the most common sources of pain among men over age 50. It is caused by a wearing away of the cartilage in the knees. Cartilage helps to make movement easier and painless.
Obviously, if cartilage wears away, it can make movement more difficult and painful. Such is the case with osteoarthritis.
Although surgery doesn’t claim to repair worn away cartilage, it often does claim to ease the pain and discomfort of osteoarthritis. The theory is that as cartilage wears away, it creates jagged surfaces that “catch” and cause pain and discomfort. Surgery aims to smooth the surfaces and thus reduce pain. We’ll see if this is true or not.
The menisci are two C-shaped pieces of cartilage inside the knee joint. They help to make knee movement easier and more comfortable. They make movement more stable and cushioned. You are fortunate to have them.
Injuries to the menisci are among the most common types of knee injuries. They can be either acute or degenerative. Acute injuries may occur from movements that place a great deal of force on the joint in the wrong way. Acute injuries are most common during athletic activity, and even according to surgeons they rarely require surgery as they heal well on their own given time.
Degenerative menisci injuries occur over time as the knees are used improperly. For example, repeatedly squatting with knees buckling in toward one another over many years slowly injuries the knees.
Surgeons suggest that, much like osteoarthritis, meniscus damage can be treated surgically by “cleaning up” jagged or uneven cartilage. Essentially, they cut away more of the menisci.
Surgery for knee osteoarthritis or menisci injury is called “keyhole” surgery. The name “keyhole” is because the surgery is performed using two small incisions on either side of the knee (the keyholes). One incision allows for the insertion of a small camera. The other allows the insertion of the surgical instruments.
Watching the view made available by the camera, the surgeon inserts surgical instruments and cuts or scrapes away cartilage.
Over ten years ago the first study was performed to test whether keyhole surgery was actually beneficial. In order to test it out, the researchers had a group of volunteers with osteoarthritis and menisci injury. They divided the participants into two groups. One group would get real keyhole surgery. The other group would get “sham surgery”. But none of the people who know which group they were in since the procedures were done under anesthesia.
The real surgery was as I described earlier. The sham surgery group got the incisions, but no cutting of cartilage was done. That way even if a person got sham surgery, he wouldn’t be able to know since he’d still have the incisions to make it look as though he got the real surgery.
Following up with the participants long term showed that there was no difference between the groups.
More recently another similar study was done. This time the researchers wanted to test only menisci injury and not osteoarthritis. They reasoned that maybe people with menisci injury only would have better surgical outcomes.
Much like the previous study, half the participants received real surgery while half received sham surgery. No one knew which group they belonged to.
The researchers followed up with the participants for two years. And what they found was that in that time there was no difference between the groups. Whether they received real or sham surgery, 80 percent of all participants had a complete healing of the injury. And 90 percent of both groups felt satisfied with the procedure after two years (even though they didn’t know which procedure they had done).
What To Do
Based on these two studies, it would seem that there is little reason to consider keyhole surgery for osteoarthritis or injured menisci. But what can you do instead?
First off, if you aren’t already experiencing knee pain then now is the very best time to take good care of your knees. After all, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
To take care of your knees and avoid or even reverse early osteoarthritis, as I’ve explained in previous articles, there are a couple of things that are proven to help. For one thing, gentle walking is proven prevention. Studies show that 6000 steps a day keeps osteoarthritis away. But make sure that they are gentle steps using good form. Slow down your walking a tad and bring some increased awareness to how you walk. Make each step feel balanced, gentle, and stable.
Greater awareness of how you move will also help to prevent menisci injury. Keep your weight balanced over your knees. When you bend your knees, don’t let your legs buckle toward one another. And slow down your movements to avoid dangerous movements.
Finally, both osteoarthritis and menisci injury involve damage to cartilage. To keep your cartilage healthy, you need good nutrition. As I shared with you previously, there are three key things you need to consider for cartilage health when it comes to nutrition.
First, you need the right types of protein and enough of it. The best type of protein to support cartilage is, well, cartilage. Eating the gelatinous cuts of meat (gelatin is the protein found in cartilage) like oxtail soup helps. Or you can take supplemental collagen/gelatin.
Secondly, you need vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to form new cartilage. The best sources are food sources such as oranges, leafy green vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers.
And thirdly, you need adequate vitamin D, which means getting out in the sunlight regularly as well as eating plenty of egg yolks, butter, and some occasional oily fish.
Now is the best time to take sensible steps to prevent injury and to protect your knees. Do plenty of regularly, gentle walking. Use good form and increase your awareness of how you move. And get good nutrition to support your health. And if a surgeon recommends keyhole surgery, think twice.