February/March 2013 (vol. 09/5)

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Research Plus

Knee pain therapy

Osteoarthritis of the knee affects 28% of males aged over 45 in the US, rising to 37% by age 65, and is a major cause of disability. This systematic review (84 randomised controlled trials) evaluated 12 physiotherapy interventions for their impact on pain, disability and physical function. Follow-up was generally limited to three months after treatment – longer-term studies were rare – and evidence quality was low. There were few statistically significant treatment effects, but there was low-quality evidence that core-strengthening exercises (aerobic and aquatic) improved disability scores; aerobic and strengthening exercises improved function and reduced pain; and ultrasound reduced pain and improved function. No single intervention improved all outcome measures. Education programmes, diathermy (microwave or radio wave heat treatment), orthotics and magnetic stimulation failed to improve any of the outcome measures.


AHRQ publication number 12(13)-EHC115-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2012. http://www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/search-for-guides-reviews-and-reports/?pageaction=displayproduct&productid=1286


Occupational Health at Work February/March 2013 (vol. 09/5) pp41