Arthroscopic surgeries of the knee are done for many reasons, the usefulness of arthroscopy for the treatment of osteoarthritis is questionable. A double-blind placebo-controlled study on arthroscopy for osteoarthritis of the knee was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002. In this 3 group study, 180 military vets with osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly assigned to receive athroscopic debridement with lavage, or arthroscopic lavage alone without debridement, (a procedure to imitate the actual debridement, where superficial incisions were made to create the appearance that the surgical procedure had been performed) and a placebo group. For 2 years following the surgeries both groups of patients reported pain levels and range of motion of the knees. Neither the patients, nor the practitioners evaluating the patients were told which patients had the actual surgery, (thus double-blind). The study reported “At no point did either of the intervention groups report less pain or better function than the placebo group.” Because there is no confirmed benefit for these surgeries in cases of osteoarthritis
of the knee, many insurance companies are now reluctant to reimburse surgeons and hospitals for what can be considered a procedure which seems to create a surgical risk with questionable benefits and outcomes.
Another documented reason to manage your osteoarthritis with conservative care which may include fluoroscopic guided hyaluronate injections, specialized physical therapy and “unloading” bracing.