Studies show that physical therapy exercises for treating knee osteoarthritis and meniscus tears may be as effective as surgery for some, according to Harvard Medical School. Patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis often experience tears in the knee meniscus, which is a shock absorber that cushions the thigh and shin bones.
Meniscus tears in younger patients are generally treated with a surgical procedure known as arthroscopic partial meniscectomy, which involves removing unstable pieces of the meniscus, explains Harvard Medical School. However, studies indicate that a six-week program of physical therapy emphasizing range-of-motion and muscle-strengthening exercises generated similar recovery patterns as in patients who underwent the surgical procedure. Patients who had surgery also followed the same physical therapy program during recovery.