Manual Therapy and Exercise Booster Sessions Improve Knee Arthritis Outcomes

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Knee arthritis is a common and costly condition affecting many middle aged adults and is a leading cause of pain and disability in this patient group.  Thankfully conservative Physical Therapy interventions such as manual therapy and exercise have been shown to be effective at reducing pain, disability, and even delaying or preventing the need for a total knee replacement.  Along with patient education, these interventions are clinically and cost effective with excellent short and long term outcomes.  New research is examining the impact of 1 or 2 visits of physical therapy treatments on a patient's functional outcomes.

Bove and colleagues in the Journal of Physical Therapy evaluated the cost effectiveness and impact of a booster session of Physical Therapy in patients with knee arthritis (2017).  Researchers randomized 300 individuals with knee arthritis into 4 groups: exercise, exercise and booster sessions, and finally exercise, manual therapy, and a booster session.  The authors analyzed the impact of this group assignment over a two year data collection period.  As expected, booster sessions of Physical Therapy with or without the addition of manual therapy dominated the non booster strategies on both clinical outcomes and cost savings.  The most cost effective group included manual therapy, exercise, and a booster visit.  

This study adds to the existing literature on incorporating manual therapy interventions for patients with knee arthritis.  In addition, adding a periodic booster session augmented the effects of these treatments over a two year period.