PT is more effective than steroid injections for osteoarthritis and as effective as surgery for meniscal tears.
Patients with chronic knee pain and apparent osteoarthritis (OA) often are offered intra-articular steroid injections, and patients with both OA and evidence of meniscal tears often are referred for arthroscopic partial meniscectomy. Physical therapy (PT) can be effective for these conditions, but patients sometimes are unwilling or unable to complete a course of PT and might gravitate toward more-invasive options.
Two recent (2020) studies support physical therapy as first-line treatment for patients with chronic knee pain. Patients with osteoarthritis likely will have better outcomes with PT than with intra-articular steroid injections, and patients with OA and meniscal tears likely will do as well with PT as with arthroscopic surgery and might be less likely to progress to total knee replacement. Clinicians should encourage patients with these conditions to complete an adequate trial of PT before considering other options.
Source: Bruce Soloway, MD, JWatch.org
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