Physical Therapy Exercises Are Cost and Clinically Effective Compared To Primary Care Alone For Knee Arthritis

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Physical Therapy interventions including manual therapy and exercise remain the primary intervention for patients with knee arthritis. These treatments have been shown to delay or prevent the need for costly, more invasive treatments including total knee replacement. Prescribed Physical Therapy exercises are designed to reduce pain, improve mobility, and increase a patient’s leg strength. Stronger muscles attenuate forces across the painful knee joint allowing a patient to achieve a higher level of physical function and participation their prior levels of activity. Additional treatment options available to patients include primary care or orthopedic management involving diagnostic imaging, medication, injections, and education. A recent study compared the cost and clinical effectiveness of usual care versus Physical Therapy management for patients with knee arthritis.

A randomized controlled trial in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage was conducted to compare the effectiveness of different conservative interventions among patients with hip or knee arthritis (Abbott et al. 2019). Authors randomized 206 patients with either hip or knee arthritis to one of four groups: usual medical care, supervised Physical Therapy Exercises, manual Physical Therapy, or combined manual and exercise Physical Therapy. Physical Therapy participants were provided with 10, 50 minute sessions including follow up “booster” sessions at 4 and 13 months. Authors found the greatest cost and clinical effectiveness in the patients who received supervised Physical Therapy exercises in addition to usual care.