Knee Pain Treatments Are Often Costly, Ineffective
Knee pain—caused by osteoarthritis, for example—is a common complaint in adults. In an attempt to avoid surgery, more and more people—and their doctors—are turning to treatments that end up being a waste of time and money, according to findings presented at a recent meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Many of these knee pain treatments are not recommended because they don’t work well or may be harmful. For example, although hyaluronic acid injections have been shown over and over not to help most patients, they are performed on thousands of patients each year and account for 29 percent of treatment costs, according to a recent study.
For the study, researchers looked at health records of more than 86,000 people who underwent knee replacement surgery. They found that two-thirds of these patients got at least one non-surgical treatment in the year prior to surgery, totaling $43 million in health care costs. Recommended treatments for chronic knee pain include physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen, and the opioid pain reliever tramadol, but researchers found these treatments account for only about 11 percent of all treatments.
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