Surgery vs. Conservative Treatment

Thousands of knee and shoulder surgeries are performed every year at an enormous and multi-layered cost to our health care system as well as to us individually. But are these surgeries all necessary? Recent research on the surgical outcomes of specific types of knee and shoulder vs "sham" surgery or conservative (non-surgical) treatment may have you second guessing going under the knife.

This topic hits fairly close to home for me personally since I sustained what appears to be a meniscus injury to my knee recently. While I have jumped (sorry, limped) onto the tail-end of a ridiculously long queue for an MRI, I have decided to follow a conservative approach to managing this injury until I have confirmation from imaging or I am simply forced to consider another option due to pain. In the mean time I am stretching, strengthening, mobilizing, foam rolling, Lacrosse ball mashing and getting excellent manual therapy from a skilled clinician, all to try to improve the joint mechanics of my knee and reduce the pain. So far so good! Common sense dictates that more conservative measures should be explored before we resort to surgical measures. Interestingly, this approach is less common than one might imagine. Follow the links below for the research.

Shoulder:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3535880/
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1058274609000718
http://www.bmj.com/content/340/bmj.c3037

Knee:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/26/health/common-knee-surgery-does-very-l...

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