Recent research published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates there to be no statistical difference in outcome for patients with a torn meniscus with osteoarthritis who treat with just physical therapy, compared with patients who treat their injury with a combination of surgery and physical therapy. 

Pain and discomfort associated with osteoarthritis of the knee affects more than 9 million people in the United States. Meniscal tears revealed by imaging studies (i.e. MRI) are common in 35% of the population older than age 50. Surprisingly, two- thirds of patients who have a torn meniscus are asymptomatic, i.e., without pain or disability.

Evidence of meniscal damage plus osteoarthritis is frequently treated with surgery, with more than 465,000 procedures done annually in the US. The prevalence of patients with both a torn meniscus and osteoarthritis who nevertheless are asymptomatic presents a challenge to medical professionals. When patients with this duo condition experience pain and discomfort, is it the arthritis the torn meniscus, or both, that is the culprit?

Between June, 2008 until August 2011 a symptomatic group of 1330 patients with a partially torn meniscus and mild to moderate osteoarthritis in 7 treatment centers were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups. The first group underwent surgery followed by physical therapy; the second group had physical therapy only. A six-month follow up the patients revealed no statistically significant difference between the two groups in terms of functional outcome or pain.

If you have suffered a personal injury that resulted in a torn meniscus with osteoarthritis, please contact the attorneys at Lipkin & Apter in Chicago, IL. We have helped hundreds of clients throughout the state of Illinois obtain compensation for personal injuries sustained in accidents or as a result of another party's negligence and may be able to help you.

New England Journal of Medicine, 2013; 368: 1675-1684