Physiotherapy can avoid and/or delay surgery. Lots of patients are not given the option of physiotherapy before they go in for surgery even though that may be the best option. Often the limitation for people receiving services are due to lack of funding compared to surgery being fully funded.
The Australian Physiotherapy Association is partnering with the Medical Research Future Fund to determine the benefits of giving better access to physiotherapy for those who have been given knee surgery as an option. The study will be led by Dr Christian Barton who believes that the majority of people who have been given surgery as their option could potentially avoid or delay their surgery. The study will determine whether people who are on the waiting list for knee surgery and are given a prescribed physiotherapy exercise program can avoid or delay surgery. Education regarding pain and weight management strategies will also be offered. It will look at the difference in quality of life, and whether there is a decrease in pain medication needs and other treatment costs.
Osteoarthritis affects 10% of the population and costs the healthcare system $2.1 billion dollars annually. By allowing or funding better access for physiotherapy services, it can avoid or delay surgery for 2/3 of patients which would save $120-300 million annually.
People who have a terrible looking X-Ray or scan diagnosing osteoarthritis can still have no symptoms of pain or dysfunction. The difference between those with osteoarthritis with no pain and those who do, can be someone who knows how to use their muscles well to be able to take the stress off the arthritic joint. If someone is weak and has no muscle co-ordination or strength, they can hamper their ability to use their joints well and potentially wear their joint out more and cause aggravation and hence pain.
The advice from research is that guided exercises to strengthen the knee is always a good option to consider before having surgery. The surgery may not last forever and because you want the first one to last the rest of your life, you want to delay it as long as possible. Come in for an assessment and a tailored exercise program to avoid surgery that you may not need.