Knee replacement surgery may relieve pain more effectively than nonsurgical therapy alone??

“These articles based on a publication in the New England Journal of Medicine have unintended consequences. Readers are led to conclude that a total knee replacement is the only effective treatment for knee arthritis. That is not right. I am posting elsewhere on this site a publication in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery this month outlining the many other therapies that effectively control pain and maintain function in an arthritic knee. “Bill Chesnut, MD

Knee replacement surgery may relieve pain more effectively than nonsurgical therapy alone.

The New York Times (10/22, Saint Louis, Subscription Publication) reports that research published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that “knee replacement surgery relieves pain and improves function in patients with severe osteoarthritis much more effectively than nonsurgical therapy alone.” For the “study, 50 adults with moderate to severe osteoarthritis completed exhaustive nonsurgical treatment, including exercise and supervised weight loss.” Meanwhile, “a similar group of patients received knee replacements, followed by the nonsurgical therapy.”

The AP (10/22, Marchione) reports that “after one year, the surgery group improved twice as much as the others did on scores for pain, activities of daily living and quality of life.” But, “two-thirds of those not given surgery still had a meaningful improvement, and only one-fourth of them ended up having surgery within the year.”

AMA News, October 2015.