Exercise therapy can reduce surgical knee repairs

The menisci are the shock absorbers in the knees and provide a cushion between the shinbone and the thighbone. Severe traumas can result in the rupture of a meniscus, which might lead to surgery.  However, many professionals agree that some surgical knee repairs are unnecessary.  This is due to a revolutionary exercise therapy that is expected to reduce most knee surgeries.

A new study has found that this exercise therapy is as effective as knee surgery in treating injuries to the meniscus.  Those who have suffered a tear at the menisci know that it is painful when running and may cause the knee to “lock”. 

Nina Jullum Kise, PhD candidate and orthopaedic surgeon, is responsible for the study that has suggested that knee surgery can be avoided if the proper exercises are done.  The study was conducted with the voluntary contribution of 140 patients with meniscus injury. They were divided into two groups – one group to be treated with exercise therapy and the other group with surgery. 

"Two years later, both groups of patients had fewer symptoms and improved functioning. There was no difference between the two groups," Nina Julium Kise says.

In fact, those who had gone through exercise therapy had greater muscle strength.  According to Kise, with proper therapy, it is possible to spare as many as three out of four from surgery. 

The other advantage that is seen is that exercise therapy has a much lower cost than knee surgery. By reducing the number of meniscus surgeries, the costs to society are dramatically reduced. 

During the experimentation phase, the patients attended psychotherapy sessions 2-3 times a week for 12 weeks.  "The exercise therapy program involves a warm up and various types of strength training. It is built up in stages that become more challenging as the patient improves and becomes stronger," Dr. Jullum Kise explains. Once a patient has adjusted to a particular program, it is continued at home and the patient only comes for adjustments or additions of new routines to the program.


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