A group of researchers has discovered that early rehabilitation of patients suffering from knee pain may no longer need to undergo surgery, nonsurgical invasive procedures and even lessen the use of opioids. This therapy includes physical exercise, nutritional counseling, and functional training.

The nontraumatic knee pain, which also includes symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, is common among individuals who are 65 years old and above. There have already been guidelines set by experts for the early use of rehabilitation but there is a scarcity of the data comparing the benefits of including Physical Therapy in the management of knee pain.

What is the objective of the research?

The study was performed by a group of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh who wanted to illustrate the holistic approach to the management of nontraumatic knee pain. The team then looked into the records of 52,504 Medical beneficiaries suffering from knee pain in the last 12 months.

In the study, rehabilitative services were categorized as early (1 to 15 days), intermediate (16-120 days) and late (more than 120 days) rehabilitation. The result of their study revealed that patients who were able to receive early intervention were less likely to use opioids, surgery or nonsurgical invasive procedures.

Low turnout of patients seeking physical therapy

Therapeutic exercise is a first-line treatment for patients suffering from non-traumatic knee pain.

However, the team discovered that only 11 percent have had this kind of treatment. According to a report published by Physical Therapy Products, Joel M. Stevans, DC, Ph.D., the lead author of the study, was surprised to have discovered a low percentage of patients receiving rehabilitation for their condition. He is hoping that their study might give more emphasis to the importance of partnering with other disciplines so that patients can be appropriately guided.

Kelly Fitzgerald, PT, Ph.D., co-author of the study, also believe that their findings will help in the reduction of health care services that are invasive in nature which could even put patients at greater risk. Sharon Dunn, PT, Ph.D., the president of American Physical Therapy Association said that the study conducted by Stevans and his team is an addition to the growing pieces of evidence which support physical therapy being a better option for chronic pain conditions.