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Therapy reduces pain and stiffness in patients with knee arthritis

This particular treatment is commonly used to address a prevalent condition

Joints are the area where two bones come together, and the end of each joint is surrounded by a protective layer called articular cartilage, which cushions your bones and protects them from rubbing against one another. When this cartilage diminishes, the condition that results is called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and the leading cause of disability and pain in middle-aged and elderly people throughout the world. It can occur in any joint in the body, but it is most common in the knees and hips. Of the many treatments available for knee osteoarthritis, manual therapy is one of the more popular used today. Manual therapy means that the therapist uses only their hands to apply various movements and techniques to the joint in order to reduce pain and other symptoms. Although manual therapy is a frequently used treatment for knee osteoarthritis, it's not completely clear just how effective it is for reducing patients' symptoms. For this reason, a powerful pair of studies called a systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted on all the available research on this topic.

14 studies are accepted for the review

To conduct the study, researchers performed a search of seven medical databases using terms related to manual therapy and knee osteoarthritis. They only accepted randomized-controlled trials (RCTs), which are high-quality studies considered to be the gold standard for evaluating whether a treatment is effective or not. This search led to 99 studies being screened to determine if they were eligible, and of these, 14 RCTs fit the necessary criteria and were accepted for the systematic review and meta-analysis. The findings of each of these RCTs were compared to one another and researchers also assessed their quality.

Manual therapy found to significantly reduce pain, alleviate stiffness and improve function

Results showed that manual therapy was found to significantly reduce pain, alleviate stiffness and improve the physical function in patients with knee osteoarthritis. These positive effects of manual therapy occurred with less than four weeks of treatment, but a treatment course lasting longer than four weeks led to even greater benefits. In addition, only one patient experienced increased discomfort from manual therapy, while no other negative effects were found in any of the other studies. Unfortunately, the quality of the studies included in this systematic review and meta-analysis was not very high due to certain flaws in their design. Nonetheless, these findings indicate that manual therapy is a beneficial treatment for knee osteoarthritis and should be used in treatment programs for patients with this condition. Due to the poor quality of the studies included, additional high-quality RCTs are needed with better design and a longer follow-up to further confirm these findings.
-As reported in the May '17 issue of Pain Physician

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