A recently published article from the University of Western Ontario in the New England Journal of Medicine, calls into question the efficacy of arthroscopy for the treatment of moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis of the knee. Researchers studied nearly 200 patients with moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis of the knee. They divided the patients into two groups. One group received medication, weekly physical therapy, and an exercise regimen. The other group of patients received the same treatment plus arthroscopic surgery of the knee. After two years, both groups of patients reported the same pain levels, physical function, and overall quality of life. The authors of the study felt their conclusions did not support the use of arthroscopic surgery for treatment of moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis.
There have been previously published studies that have indicated for the treatment of pain alone, arthroscopic surgery for moderate-to-severe arthritis is no better than nonoperative treatment. However, in milder forms of arthritis, particularly those associated with mechanical symptoms, i.e. catching and locking type symptoms from a torn meniscus or cartilage, arthroscopic surgery has proved beneficial.
If you have moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis of the knee and associate pain, but without significant mechanical symptoms, the use of arthroscopic surgery to treat that may be no better than nonoperative treatment methods. You should discuss the options with your surgeon when contemplating what to do about symptoms associated with osteoarthritis of the knee.