Knee osteoarthritis is a common condition in aging adults leading to pain and reduced performance of daily and recreational activities. Manual therapy and exercise remain a hallmark of conservative care for this condition and have been shown to delay or prevent the need for a total knee replacement. In addition to exercise, corticosteroid injections are often proposed to patients in order to reduce pain and improve patient participation. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined the impact of these injections in patients with knee arthritis.
Henriksen and colleagues studied 100 patients and randomized them to either a corticosteroid injection or a placebo injection prior to undergoing Physical Therapy 3 days a week for 12 weeks. These patients all had evidence of knee arthritis on x ray and reported pain with daily activities including walking. All patients improved through the course of the study, but no significant differences were noted at 2, 14, or 26 weeks between the group receiving a corticosteroid injection or a placebo. The authors concluded there was no additional clinical benefit of a steroid injection and Physical Therapy compared to Physical Therapy alone. Thus, Physical Therapy was the main reason for the patient’s improvement.
Patients with knee osteoarthritis are encouraged to seek out a local Physical Therapist to implement an effective rehabilitation program.