An exercise regime is as effective as surgery for people with a chronic pain in the front part of their knee, known as chronic patellofemoral syndrome (PFPS).
PFPS is often treated with arthroscopic surgery, in which equipment is inserted through small incisions in your knee to diagnose and fix the problem. However, there is little evidence that this treatment is the best option.
The study, conducted by researchers at The ORTON Research Institute in Helsinki, Finland, compared arthroscopy with exercise in 56 patients with PFPS.
One group of participants was treated with knee arthroscopy and an eight-week home exercise program, while a second group received only the exercise program.
After nine months, patients in both groups experienced similar reductions in pain and improvements in knee mobility. A follow-up conducted two years later still found no differences in outcomes between the two groups.
The only difference discovered was in cost: those who had received the surgery had to pay over $1,300 more than the exercise-only group.
The researchers concluded that arthroscopy is not a cost-effective treatment for PFPS.