I love research that shows conservative treatments—rest, diet and exercise—to be as effective (or more!) than drugs and surgery.
So when I ran across this article, “9 exercises to rehab a torn ACL without surgery,” I wanted to pass it on.
“There are approximately 150,000 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears a year, most of which need to be fixed surgically. However, new research at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City found that about 25 percent of the ACL injured population does not need to undergo surgery because partially— and, rarely, fully torn— ACLs can heal with yoga and physical therapy.”
Click on the image to see the recommended yoga poses.
If you do have an injured knee, you should check with your physician/physical therapist before attempting self rehab.
Also, I found an informative yoga post that explains (with pictures!) how improperly performed poses can put additional stress on the knee.
Even if you don’t have a knee injury, strength and flexibility exercises, such as yoga, can help prevent joint injuries.
Too many knee surgeries?
In 2010, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published a study out of Sweden that divided young adult athletes with torn ACLs into two groups: one group received surgical repair and rehab, the other just rehab. The results showed that “…60 per cent of these operations could be avoided, without negatively affecting treatment outcomes.”
“There are almost 10 000 scientific publications addressing the ACL and 50 per cent of these are about surgical treatment. However, none of these studies have shown that surgical reconstruction produces better results than rehabilitation alone. Despite this, we perform 3 000 cruciate ligament reconstructions a year in Sweden,” says Stefan Lohmander, professor and consultant at Lund University and Skåne University Hospital. “In the USA there are 200 000 operations of this type, at a cost of USD 3 billion!”
Sixty percent of 200,000 is 120,000. Could we really perform 120,000 fewer ACL repairs every year in the US?
Another NEJM study published in 2013 (this time out of Finland) looked at whether arthroscopic surgery for meniscus tears (cartilage within the knee) was really helpful.
Arthroscopic surgery on the meniscus is the most common orthopedic procedure in the United States, performed, the study said, about 700,000 times a year at an estimated cost of $4 billion.
The results indicated that “… thousands of people may be undergoing unnecessary surgery.”
“Those who do research have been gradually showing that this popular operation is not of very much value,” said Dr. David Felson, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Boston University. This study “provides information beautifully about whether the surgery that the orthopedist thinks he or she is doing is accomplishing anything. I think often the answer is no.”
Did you know the median income of an orthopedic surgeon in the US is $429,428? An internist’s average salary is $193,673. Unfortunately, our quirky health care reimbursement system pays much more to physicians who perform surgery than physicians who advise rest, rehab and watchful waiting.
Any surgery or hospital stay runs the risk of complications: infection, blood clots, medical mistakes, to name just a few.
Personally, I would want to exhaust all possibilities of conservative treatment before going under the knife! Wouldn’t you, too?
Related DVDs and books: