The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study showing that physical therapy is just as effective as surgery in patients with meniscal tears and osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee “should help change practice in the management of symptomatic meniscal tears in patients with knee osteoarthritis,” APTA President Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS, said in response to the study. “Surgery may not always be the best first course of action,” Rockar stated. “A physical therapist, in many cases, can help patients avoid the often unnecessary risks and expenses of surgery.”
An APTA press release quotes APTA member Clare Safran-Norton, PT, PhD, OCS, lead physical therapist in the study, who said their findings “suggest that a course of physical therapy in this patient population may be a good first choice … These findings should help surgeons, physicians, physical therapists, and patients in decision-making regarding their treatment options.”
The Meniscal Tear in Osteoarthritis Research (METEOR) trial, widely publicized after appearing in NEJM this week, showed no significant differences in functional improvement after 6-12 months between patients who underwent surgery with postoperative physical therapy and those who received standardized physical therapy alone.