For acute injuries like a blown ACL, surgery is often the only option. For chronic problems, not so much. Here are three common procedures that merit serious skepticism.
Mending meniscus tears: A 2014 study found this operation to be detrimental for many patients older than 50; it actually accelerates joint degeneration, cartilage loss, and the onset of arthritis.
Patching or trimming torn or aging knee cartilage: This arthroscopic surgery yields scant benefits, according to a 2015 review of nine studies. However, complications, including blood clots and infections, can be life threatening.
Arthroscopic debridement and lavage: A 2002 study found that this procedure, which is used to clean up arthritic tissue in the knee that can cause painful aching, was no better than a sham procedure; a subsequent study found that a regimen of painkillers and physical therapy offered just as much relief.