Exercise-based physical therapy remained noninferior to arthroscopic partial meniscectomy regarding function and should be the preferred treatment for patients aged 45 to 70 years with degenerative meniscal tears, according to results.
Julia C. A. Noorduyn, MSc, and colleagues randomized 139 patients to 16 sessions of exercise-based physical therapy and 139 patients to undergo arthroscopic partial meniscectomy for degenerative meniscal tears between July 12, 2013, and Dec. 4, 2020. All patients were aged 45 to 70 years. Outcome measures were collected at a mean follow-up 61.8 months and included patient-reported knee function and progression of knee osteoarthritis on radiograph, according to the study.
From baseline to 5-year follow-up, the surgery group had a mean improvement of 29.6 in IKDC scores, while the physical therapy group had a mean improvement of 25.1. Researchers also found knee OA progressed in 49.2% of patients (n = 61) in the surgery group and 50.8% of patients (n = 63 patients) in the physical therapy group.
With comparable knee function scores and rates of OA progression at 5 years, Noorduyn and colleagues determined exercise-based physical therapy to be noninferior to arthroscopic partial meniscectomy.
“Findings from this trial further support the recommendation that exercise-based physical therapy should be the preferred treatment over surgery for degenerative meniscal tears,” the researchers wrote in the study.