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Knee Pain, Physio or Surgery

Stuart Fossella - Monday, February 26, 2018 | Comments (0)
Posted 1 year ago

Surgery vs Physio treatment

Who thinks they need knee surgery? Hands up who wants knee surgery?

Didn't think so.

There is growing evidence to suggest that knee surgery isn't always the answer and that you could have the same outcome by doing an Exercise program as a treatment!

We tend to have people come to see us when they feel that their ability to be active has been taken away from them because of knee troubles.

People tell us that not to have the choice to climb a hill if they want to is a cause for frustration.

  • To not be able to mow the lawn without knee discomfort is frustrating.
  • To not be able to kneel to get to the cupboards in the kitchen is another source of irritation.
  • To not be able to run without knee pain is a drag.


Having the choice to do things and lose it, is FRUSTRATING.

And time and time again…People put up with this for so long, and it really doesn't need to be the case.

People’s frustration comes from the fact that they don't know what is wrong with their knee in the first place. They just assume that it has to be related to Arthritis.

People assume that they need to guzzle down anti-inflammatories to combat the pain - but then realise that they can’t use them because of the blood pressure tablets they are on.

And the sad thing about this from our perspective is that all of the above is not necessarily the case! - we’ve seen, assessed and treated knees for a great number of years now. So many years in fact that our hair is getting grey!!

We know what knees need X-Rays or scans or likely surgery.

And because we know which knees are which, we know what you need to do for you.

We know how you can combat arthritis, cartilage damage, muscle weakness, joint stiffness or the like.

But you need to know what is wrong with your knee in the first place!!

So how are Physio and surgery the same then? Well, it’s all to do with the outcome of surgery and Physio led exercise treatment.

What analysis of studies demonstrated is that there is a difference in the very short term - as exercise improves thigh muscle strength.

  • But at 1 year this short-lived difference is not apparent and;
  • and 2 years after surgery:


The difference in surgery and Physio was MINUTE.

So what kind of actual knee issues are we talking about that might end up in knee surgery? Well, what we are talking about specifically in the case of this study is a knee that has a degenerative meniscal tear.

This basically means a tear ‘related to age’ to the shock absorbing cartilage that sits between the thigh and the shin bone. Related to age means a tear in keeping with wear and tear (in comparison to a tear caused by sports or accidents).

And the issue here is that these tears do not heal very well at all. And by all accounts they don't necessarily respond to surgery that well either. Regardless, surgery is of course in this day and age key hole.

In comparison to the surgery. The exercise therapy was centred around a 12-week progressive programme of knee strength and control based exercise. This involved 2-3 sessions of rehab per week. The exercises performed were simple and based on strengthening the front and back of the thigh and hips. It also emphasised balance and coordination of movements.

All told the exercises were simple and easy enough for anyone over the age of 40.

Here is a nicely summarised video version of the trial.


Short term gain from surgery is an obvious perk to hospital admission, a general anaesthetic, time off work, painkillers after an op and an inability to drive for a week to 10 days :-)

But in the slightly longer, and longer still, term there may not be a difference in Surgery vs Physio intervention.

So maybe you should commit to finding out whats wrong with your knee and then commit to doing something about it.

Don’t lose the choice to do the things that you want to be doing.

It really isn't that difficult to make the initial steps to find out what you can do about your knee - but that first step does involve getting in touch with us to discuss the problem, to look and feel and test your knee - then we can talk about:

X-Rays, Scans, referral to an Orthopaedic surgeon or

a Training regime to address your stiffness, weakness, tightness or all of the above!


So if you are keen to learn more about how you can help yourself and find out more about your knee issue - then contact us here.

We love nothing more than helping you to decide what your next step or a first step in your recovery is.


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