Guest Blogger – Dr. Mitch Proffman – Unnecessary Knee Surgery

My main focus this month is on a very disturbing news item. There is a surgical arthroscopic procedure that is done 100,000 times a year, costing more than $1 billion dollars a year. It is arthroscopic knee surgery, that is done basically to “clean” up arthritis and debris from years of pounding. The assumption made by the authors is that this procedure is useless.

In a surprising report published in the New England Journal of Medicine on July 10, 2002, it was shown that patients with osteoarthritis of the knee who underwent placebo arthroscopic surgery were just as likely to report relief from pain as those patients who underwent the real procedure.

180 patients were placed into three groups. One group received debridement. Their worn, torn or loose cartilage was cut away with the aid of an arthroscope. The second group received arthroscopic lavage with the bad cartilage flushed out. The third group received simulated arthroscopic surgery. There were small incisions made but no cartilage was removed and there were no instruments used.

During the two-year follow-up period, patients in all three groups reported that there were moderate improvements in their pain and their ability to function. The placebo patients reported better outcomes than the debridement patients at certain points during this period. Neither of the intervention groups reported less pain or better function than the placebo group.

Dr. Proffman is a chiropractor who has lectured extensively to various groups and organizations about Chiropractic and natural health care. In active practice for over 20 years, Dr. Proffman was the Chiropractor at the Healing Center in Manhattan, New York for four years. The Healing Center was an alternative health center that was under the auspices of Gary Null Phd. where various modalities, e.g. acupuncture, massage, podiatry, nutritional counseling, colonics, etc. were used. For more information on Dr. Proffman visit his website, Chirohands The home of multiday running news and events.

1 Comment

  1. Awesome post, Doc! I actually saw this documentary on television and then I believe it was yanked because of the controversial nature. I can’t believe how many of these unnecessary surgeries are performed and paid for. Further, I can’t believe it was actually reported in a major medical journal like NEJM.

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