Knee replacement surgery relieves pain and improves function in patients with severe osteoarthritis much more effectively than nonsurgical therapy alone, researchers reported on Wednesday.
Despite hundreds of thousands of knee replacements performed in the United States yearly, until now there had been no rigorously controlled trial comparing the operation with more conservative approaches.
In the new study, 50 adults with moderate to severe osteoarthritis completed exhaustive nonsurgical treatment, including exercise and supervised weight loss. A similar group of patients received knee replacements, followed by the nonsurgical therapy.
After a year, 85 percent of patients who got an artificial knee reported pain relief and functional improvement, the study found, compared with 68 percent of patients initially assigned to nonsurgical treatment. The study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.