Gilbert was 59 years old when I first evaluated him back in 2011 for a 3 month old knee injury. He was limping back then due to a meniscus tear and was he was headed toward a knee replacement surgery. I just saw him this past week for the opposite knee and got an update that the knee we treated is still 95% better, some 4 years later. How’s that for a knee meniscus surgery outcome in a patient who skipped the surgery?
Gilbert back in 2011 had knee pain that would at times shoot up to a 9 out of 10. His MRI showed a hole in the cartilage, swelling in the bone, as well as a meniscus tear. Usually meniscus tears in this age group (middle aged and older) are as common as wrinkles and about as clinically meaningful, but this one fit with his complaints. The meniscus is a spacer that absorbs shock to protect the cartilage. The cartilage lives on the end of the bones and allows them to glide more smoothly past each other. Gilbert also had problems in his ligaments. These normally protect the knee by keeping it aligned and stable, sort of like duct tape.
In early 2011 he received 3 Regenexx-SCP injections into the meniscus and ligaments rather than pursuing surgery. Why avoid surgery? The debridement surgery commonly done in these patients has been shown to be ineffective in research studies (although it’s still sometimes done). As of this last week, that knee is still 95% better, which is an amazing result considering that knee surgery is ineffective, a steroid shot would have lasted a few months, and a hyalurionic acid shot would have lasted maybe 6-9 months.
The upshot? Gilbert avoided a late 20th century ineffective knee surgery and replaced that with an early 21st century treatment, using his own precisely injected, highly concentrated platelets to reduce pain and increase function. Four years later, it’s clearly the best decision he could have made. Regrettably, we still see patients like Gilbert who get talked into ineffective surgeries because they’re covered by insurance, although these days with high deductibles, co-insurance, and co-pays – they cost patients lots of money! Don’t let yourself get talked into a surgery that removes important parts and pieces of important structures like the meniscus, instead go Gilbert’s route and skip the invasive knee surgery!