According to research presented earlier this month, physician-diagnosed symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (OA) is occurring on average 16 years earlier in life than what was previously found in the 1990’s. The research performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and was presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago.
If the trend continues, the amount of healthcare utilization and especially the number of total knee replacement surgeries may need to be performed in the near future may dramatically increase. One result of such an increase was stated to be a significant increase in health care costs in the United States.
An Epub ahead of print at the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) describes a study done comparing outcomes following Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA; also sometimes known as TKR for ‘Total Knee Replacement’). Two rehabilitation protocols were followed by the two different groups in the study.
The two groups 8 were age and sex-matched. One group followed a standard, lower intensity rehabilitation program while the second group followed a higher intensity program that progressed as tolerated. The high intensity (HI) group had an additional month of treatments but there were already significant differences between the two groups at the 3.5 weeks post TKA. The HI group also utilized machine-based strengthening while the lower intensity group only progressed to ankle weights or resistive bands.
The study found that those in the higher intensity group had superior strength and functional outcomes while not experiencing any increase in pain or decrease in range of motion (ROM). The HI group showed significantly greater short-term and long-term strength and function as measured at 3.5 weeks, 12weeks and 52 weeks .
It’s worth noting that the study only involved a small sample size and lacked randomization and blinding. However, the researchers believe that this illustrates that larger similar studies are warranted.
A recent study by the The George Institute for International Health has found that regular practice of Tai Chi can result in significant benefits to arthritis sufferers. They reported that Tai Chi has a positive effect on pain reduction and in reducing disability and that their study is “…the first robust evidence to support the beneficial effects of Tai Chi”.
The study is among the many that support the improvements that arthritis sufferers can experience through regular exercise.
The The George Institute for International Health is “an internationally-recognised health research organisation, undertaking high impact research across a broad health landscape.”
A recent study published in the Australian Journal of Physiotherapy found that arthroscopic surgery in osteoarthritic knees offered no significant benefits, when used in conjunction with physical therapy and medications as opposed to physical therapy and medications alone.
The subjects of the study had moderate to severe OA of the knee and did not experience improvements in physical function, pain or health-related quality of life when arthroscopic surgery was added to their regimen of physical therapy and medications.