According to a recent study, exercise is just as effective as arthroscopic surgery for middle-age patients with a meniscal tear in their knee.

In light of this, researchers suggest that supervised exercise therapy should be suggested as a treatment option.

The study, conducted by Denmark and Norway-based researchers, was published recently in The BMJ.

A media release from BMJ notes that the researchers identified 140 adults (average age 50 years) with degenerative meniscal tears, verified by MRI scan, at two public hospitals and two physiotherapy clinics in Norway. Almost all (96%) participants had no definitive x-ray evidence of osteoarthritis.

Among the patient group, half participated in a supervised exercise program, two to three times per week for 12 weeks; and half received arthroscopic surgery followed by a regimen of simple exercises to be performed at home while they recover from the procedure.

The researchers assessed all the patients’ muscle strength at 3 months and recorded the patient-recorded knee function at 2 years.

Per the patients’ results, the researchers saw no clinically relevant difference between both groups in terms of pain, function in sport and recreation, and knee-related quality of life.

During the 3-month follow-up, the exercise group showed improved muscle strength. During the 2-year follow-up, the entire patient group showed no adverse events; however, 13 participants in the exercise group underwent surgery, with no additional benefit.

“Supervised exercise therapy showed positive effects over surgery in improving thigh muscle strength, at least in the short term,” the authors note, per the release. “Our results should encourage clinicians and middle aged patients with degenerative meniscal tear and no radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis to consider supervised structured exercise therapy as a treatment option.”

[Source(s): BMJ, Science Daily]