The first study followed participants, who had an ACL injury, for 5 years. The researchers found that results between those who had surgical repair and those who were treated with rehab alone were near identical.
The second study followed participants for two years who had suffered a meniscal tear in their knee. Again researchers found exercise and rehabilitation in middle-aged patients with knee damage was as effective as a meniscal surgical repair. “No clinical difference between the two groups was found as it related to their ability to do daily activities, participate in sports or pain levels”. Interestingly though, 13 of the participants who were in the exercise only group opted to have arthroscopic surgery during the study, but didn’t experience any additional benefits.
There was other studies discussed in the article, but these were the key ones. There is a link to the full article above.
What to make of these findings
This research shows again how important exercise is. Of course it has to be said that for any injury, you need to have it properly assessed to see what the problem is and then you can make an educated decision on the best course of treatment.
As I have said many times before in previous blogs, surgery should always be the last option. Sometimes surgery is going to be required, but I bet there are lots of cases out there where a proper exercise and strengthening program would give the same if not better results than the surgical option. Even if surgery is required, doing as much strengthening before the surgery will hopefully get you better results and a faster recovery.
Trying to prevent injuries is also a great option. Having a body that is functioning well, doing regular exercise, stretching and mobility work will hopefully limit the risk of injuries. If you are functioning well and then are unlucky enough to get injured, generally, you will recover faster.
If you have been injured recently or are getting over an injury or surgery, maybe it is time to start some appropriate rehabilitation exercise and stability work. Contact your health professional to discuss your options and get started. There is one thing for sure, your body will definitely thank you for it.