From the Editor: The Efficacy of Meniscus Tear Surgery
It’s not easy to find a person over the age of 60 who hasn’t experienced a meniscus tear—one of the most common insults to the knee. A tear of this cartilage that’s a buffer between the shinbone and the thighbone can occur as a result of degeneration; it’s a common consequence of aging. But it also is a consequence of trauma. Meniscus tears typically occur during activities that result in a rotating or twisting of the knee, and the resulting pain often leads to an inability to be active, which brings its own health consequences. When pain, swelling, and stiffness drive patients to consult with an orthopedic specialist, they’re often told that surgery is necessary. But is it?
Studies have shown that while an acute tear demands surgery, not all tears are so severe. Not all middle-aged and older patients will experience long-term benefits from surgical meniscus repair, and many will heal with conservative treatment, including rest, ice, elevation, the use of anti-inflammatory medicine, physical therapy, and weight loss.
In this issue, contributor Mark Coggins examines the nature of meniscus tears and reviews the research about the efficacy of treatment. Other features explore the safety of intermittent fasting for older adults, the psychological burden polycystic ovarian syndrome places on older women, and the role of obesity in hypertension.
Also, in this issue, Joan Kapusnik-Uner explores the risks the use of common drugs may pose to older adults and looks at the role medication decision support tools can play in helping physicians identify at-risk patients and prevent adverse outcomes. Jennifer E. Van Pelt looks at the way that shaking things up can improve health. She reports on the popularity of an ancient strategy—vibration therapy—which has numerous benefits for older adults, from increased bone density to improvement in muscle strength and balance. Contributor Lindsey Getz reports on research linking inadequate hydration with a risk for heart failure, and Walter Whitley writes about the ways that advanced diagnostic testing may lead to earlier diagnoses and improved care for eye diseases.