Osteoarthritis of the knee and physiotherapy – Part 1

World Physiotherapy Congress in Amsterdam

Osteoarthritis of the knee

What does recent physiotherapy research tell us?

I just returned from Amsterdam where I attended the World Physiotherapy Congress. I was fortunate to be able to present a poster of my Master’s research to a large international audience.  I previously summarized and posted my whiplash related master’s research on the West 4th Physiotherapy blog, http://www.west4thphysio.com/archives/645 so in this post I decided to focus on summarizing some of the most interesting research presentations I attended which focused on osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.

Can osteoarthritis be prevented by having a torn ligament (ACL) repaired?

Dr Susan Keays, a research physiotherapist from University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, and her colleagues compared rates of knee osteoarthritis in 56 people who chose to have a surgical repair of their ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) followed by physiotherapy, versus 28 people who decided to do physiotherapy instead of surgery, and continued to complain of some instability.   The mean time since injury was 11 years.  The researchers found that the surgical group had lower rates of knee OA than the non-surgical group.  But… the surgical technique matters! The group that had an ACL repair using a graft of the hamstring tendon (semitendinosis/gracilis) had nearly 50 % of the rates of knee OA of the non-surgical group (33% vs. 64 %) and the group that had a surgical repair using their patellar tendon had similar rates of knee OA (62 %) as the non-surgical group.   When reviewing research in this area it is important to know what type of surgical repair was performed.  If you are considering an ACL repair I would advise you to ask what type of repair will be performed and discuss this research with your physiotherapist and surgeon.  It is also important to note that non-surgical patients without complaints of persistent instability were excluded from the study.

In the next couple of posts I will review other aspects of knee health with regard to osteoarthritis.

If you would like to consult with me regarding your knee health, email me at marj@w4pt.com or call West 4th Physiotherapy Clinic at 604-730-9478.

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