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Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Treatment of Osteoarthritis of the Knee with pulsed Electrical Stimulation

Thomas M. Zizic

Objective: The safety and effectiveness of pulsed electrical stimulation was evaluated for the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.

Methods: A multicenter, double blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial that enrolled 78 patients with OA of the knee incorporated 3 primary efficacy variables of patients' pain, patients' function, and physician global evaluation of patients' condition, and 6 secondary variables that included duration of morning stiffness, range of motion, knee tenderness, joint swelling, joint circumference, and walking time. Measurements were recorded at baseline and during the 4 week treatment period. Results. Patients treated with the active devices showed significantly greater improvement than the placebo group for all primary efficacy variables in comparisons of mean change from baseline to the end of treatment (p <0.05). Improvement of > 50% from baseline was demonstrated in at least one primary efficacy variable in 50% of the active device group, in 2 variables in 32%, and in all 3 variables in 24%. In the placebo group improvement of > 50% occurred in 36% for one, 6% for 2, and 6% for 3 variables. Mean morning stiffness decreased 20 min in the active device group and increased 2 min in the placebo group (p <0.05). No statistically significant differences were observed for tenderness, swelling, or walking time.
Conclusion: The improvements in clinical measures for pain and function found in this study suggest that pulsed electrical stimulation is effective for treating OA of the knee.

Studies for long-term effects are warranted. (J Rheumatol 1995;22:1757-61)

Additional Research

Martin, R. B.; Gutman, W. The effect of electric fields on osteoporosis of disuse. Calc. Tiss. Res. 25:23-27; 1978.
Norton, L. A.; Rodan, G. A.; Bourret, L. A. Epiphyseal cartilage cAMP changes produced by electrical and mechanical perturbations. Clin. Orthop. Rel. Res. 124:59-68; 1977.
Tabrah, F.; Hoffmeier, M.; Gilbert, F.; Batkin, S.; Bassett, C. A. L. Bone density changes in osteoporosis-prone women exposed to pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs). J. Bone Min. Res. 5:437-442; 1990.


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