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Clinical Trials Update
June 23/30, 2020

Physical Therapy Outperforms Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis

JAMA. 2020;323(24):2453. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.9155

Physical therapy reduced pain and functional disability more effectively than glucocorticoid injections among patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, a trial in the New England Journal of Medicine reported.

Physical therapy relieved pain and disability from knee osteoarthritis more effectively than glucocorticoid injections in a recent clinical trial.

The study’s 156 patients in the US Military Health System were randomized to receive up to 3 glucocorticoid injections or a maximum of 14 physical therapy sessions over 12 months. The primary outcome was the total score on the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC). The scores range from 0 to 240, with higher scores indicating worse symptoms.

In the glucocorticoid injection group, the average WOMAC score declined to 55.8 from a baseline of 108.8 and to 37.0 in the physical therapy group from a baseline of 107.1. Both groups achieved the minimum clinically important difference of 12% improvement from baseline.