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Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2004 Mar;16(2):143-7.

Role of physical therapy in management of knee osteoarthritis.

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Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.



The purposes of this review are to: (1) describe treatments that physical therapists may use to supplement exercise programs to enhance the benefit of rehabilitation, (2) discuss current research related to the mode of delivery of physical therapy treatment, and (3) identify characteristics from recent research that may influence the responsiveness of individuals with knee osteoarthritis to physical therapy.


Physical therapists provide a variety of interventions, such as manual therapy techniques, balance, coordination, and functional retraining techniques, knee taping techniques, electrical stimulation, and foot orthotics to assist in overcoming some of the barriers that make participation in exercise and physical activity difficult. Recent research implies that a number of factors may influence the responsiveness to physical therapy treatment for individuals with knee osteoarthritis. Factors such as the mode of treatment delivery, treatment compliance issues, mechanical characteristics such as joint laxity and malalignment, and radiographic severity are discussed.


Future studies are needed to improve our understanding of factors that can influence the responsiveness of patients with knee osteoarthritis to exercise and physical activity programs. The question may not be which mode of therapy works best, but rather, which patient and/or disease characteristics will tell us who will and who will not respond to a given mode of therapy.

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