Physical Therapists Give Hands-On Help for People with Knee OsteoarthritisNew evidence shows that special hands-on treatment given by trained physical therapists helps ease pain and stiffness in patients with knee osteoarthritis. The manual treatments used by the physical therapists in this study included hands-on tissue work, graded joint movements, and stretching. These treatments have been shown to calm pain and inflammation, help joints move better, and relax muscles.
Eighty-three patients were randomly placed in either a treatment group or a control group. Both groups were given a survey about their pain. They were also tested to see how far they could walk in a six-minute period. Then the patients went to therapy two times each week for a total of four weeks.
Along with manual therapies, the patients in the treatment group also did standard knee exercises in the clinic and at home. Participants in the control group were only given mock ultrasound treatments set at the lowest possible level, too low to really help their knee problem. This group was also told not to do anything different in the way of exercise or activity.
In the first few visits, people given manual treatments reported feeling 20 to 40 percent better. All patients again took the survey and did the walking test at eight weeks and then at one year after starting the therapy. Participants in the treatment group showed significant improvements according to the survey, and they walked further during the six-minute walk test. Compared to the control group, the patients treated with manual and exercise therapies had less pain and stiffness and fewer problems with activity, even up to one year later. The authors consider that manual therapy for knee osteoarthritis might help patients avoid, or at least postpone, the need for a new knee joint.
Gail D. Deyle, MPT, et al. Effectiveness of Manual Physical Therapy and Exercise in Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. In Annals of Internal Medicine. February 1, 2000. Vol. 132. No. 5. Pp. 173-181.
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