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Post-Knee Replacement Physio Helps in Short Term

But gains in flexibility, quality of life don't last, data suggests

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FRIDAY, Sept. 21, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Physiotherapy can offer short-term benefit to patients with recent total knee replacement surgeries, according to a review of six studies involving 614 patients.

A team at Nuffield Orthopaedic Center NHS Trust in Oxford, U.K., conducted the analysis in order to determine whether physiotherapy should be routinely provided after these knee arthroplasty patients are discharged from hospital.

All of the patients in the studies had undergone total knee replacement due to osteoarthritis.

The researchers looked at how physiotherapy improved function, quality of life, walking, range of motion in the knee joint, and muscle strength.

Functional physiotherapy exercise had a small to moderate effect on joint motion and quality of life at three to four months after surgery. However, this benefit was not sustained at one year after surgery, the researchers concluded.

Even though there was no firm evidence, the review results suggested that it was reasonable to refer patients for a short course of physiotherapy in order to offer some short-term benefits. The results also indicated that it was worthwhile to conduct further research in order to fully assess the value of physiotherapy in this group of patients.

The review will be published Friday in the journal BMJ Online First.

An accompanying editorial said the review highlights the lack of high quality research into the effectiveness of physiotherapy exercise programs for patients who've had total knee replacement.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons outlines exercises for knee replacement patients.

SOURCE: BMJ, news release, Sept, 20, 2007


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