Common Meniscus Surgery Causes Arthritis: Please Stop This Surgery!

by Chris Centeno, MD /

meniscus surgery arthritis

One of the most common orthopedic surgeries on earth is partial meniscectomy. This surgery has been shown in many different trials to be ineffective, and now it has a new distinction. It’s also been found in a high-level randomized controlled trial to cause arthritis. Let’s dig in.

Meniscus Surgery Side Effects: We Already Know Partial Meniscectomy Gets a Failing Grade

Today, I’m reviewing a study that reveals yet a few more reasons why partial meniscectomy gets a big, fat fail. It’s important to note that this doesn’t reveal anything we don’t already know and haven’t already covered here over and over again about meniscus surgery side effects. What the new study has provided, quite simply, is more information to further confirm that meniscus surgery needs to be retired to the dustbin of medical history. First, learn more about meniscus surgery by watching my video below:

Now, let’s take a look at the newest study, confirming yet another F grade for partial meniscectomy.

More Arthritis Progression with Partial Meniscectomy than Without

First, this new research is a randomized controlled trial, which is the type of research we’re supposed to more pay attention to. The new study compared arthritic changes in the knees of those who’d undergone partial meniscectomy for meniscus tears to those who’d undergone physical therapy (PT) for the tears. Structural changes were reviewed on MRIs conducted over an 18-month period. Researchers examined changes in cartilage thickness and surface area, bone marrow lesions, and other structural indicators for arthritis. The results? In the partial meniscectomy group, 60% (compared to 33% in the PT group) had damage to the cartilage surface in two or more areas. The meniscectomy group also had more-advanced bone spurs. So while many past studies have found meniscectomy to be no more effective for a meniscus tear than PT, this one found it to be less effective in some areas that would indicate a progression of arthritis.

Additional Research on Knee Meniscus Surgery, PT, and Arthritis

Way back in 2013, I shared another study that found that PT was just as effective as meniscus surgery for meniscus tears. This was after telling patients for many years to steer clear of knee meniscus surgery. A study at that point had also found that mensicus tears were common in middle-aged and older people and that many people with meniscus tears have no knee pain, so assuming knee pain is due to a meniscus tear seen on MRI is careless at best. This equated to, meniscus tears in middle age and beyond are as common as gray hair, and neither requires surgical intervention to repair.

Yet another recent study, this one on those aged 45 and older, found that partial meniscectomy, again, was no more effective than PT. At this point, last October, this put as at now four randomized controlled trials finding that partial meniscectomy just doesn’t work.

Today’s feature study isn’t the first to link meniscus surgery to arthritis either. Last year, I shared a study finding also that a meniscus surgery now means knee arthritis in the future. This one was telling as 63% of mensicectomy patients developed arthritis in their operated-on knee with only 28% of the same patients developing arthritis in their opposite, nonoperated knee. This supported another study I covered in 2014 finding, again, that meniscus surgery leads to knee arthritis. The natural progression in orthopedic surgery is of course eventual knee replacement in those with progressing arthritis, and, indeed, those who have had meniscus surgery are three times more likely to have a knee replacement later.

Meniscus surgery may be the topic I cover more than any other on this blog, and for good reason: the research proving over and over again its lack of efficacy, poor outcomes, and further problems just keeps pouring in.

The upshot? Can we stop this silly surgery? While it may be needed in rare instances of severe locking of the knee, it’s routine application is harming patients. It’s time to hang it up!

Category: Knee, Side Effects

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10 thoughts on “Common Meniscus Surgery Causes Arthritis: Please Stop This Surgery!

  1. Gustavo A. Rodriguez

    I have torn meniscus on both knees, and, have never been operated, I have been taking one capsule a day of…glucosamine chondroitin, 1500/1200, problem solved.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Gustavo,
      It’s great stuff, glad it has helped, but don’t ignore symptoms when and if they develop.

  2. Trish Pottersmith

    Dr. Centeno, are you referring to Knee Arthroscopy/Meniscectomy surgery? Not sure what you mean by “common meniscus surgery”.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Trish,
      The specific common meniscus surgery studied was partial meniscectomy, though our clinical experience and other studies have shown the same for meniscus surgery in general.

  3. Susan L. Benson

    As a former patient for stem cell treatment in my knees, I would like to know why Regenexx has closed its offices in Arizona

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Susan,
      Unfortunately, Catalyst Pain Solutions has closed. We will have another Regenexx provider in Phoenix in next 3 months. Las Vegas is the closest clinic for ongoing care at the moment. We hope to have a second in Phoenix in about six months.

  4. Tony

    In your experience/practice, Does this also apply to most bucket handle tears that aren’t currently causing locking of the joint?

    Thanks!

  5. Trish Pottersmith

    I asked because my son is a patient at the Broomfield clinic. When his meniscus flipped in September 2018, I brought him in. I was told that the arthroscopy ‘snip’ was recommended by “even here at Ceteno-Schultz”. So we went back to CU Sports medicine and did that. Why were we told that?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Trish,
      Each case is an individual case which is the purpose of evaluating each case. Candidacy decisions are made not only with the Doctors clinical experience, but also with the registry data representing tens of thousands of patients.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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