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Effect of Physiotherapy After Knee Replacement Only Short-term
Effect of Physiotherapy After Knee Replacement Only Short-term

(September 21, 2007 - Insidermedicine) People who opt for knee replacement surgery to improve their osteoarthritis may benefit from physiotherapy, at least in the short-term, according to a report published in the journal BMJ Online First.

Osteoarthritis of the knee is an increasingly common problem due to a more active society, an increasingly elderly population, and a growing percentage of the population that is overweight. Knee replacement surgery - also known as total knee arthroplasty - can help relieve pain and restore function in severely diseased knee joints.

Here are some important points to consider if you have knee pain:

•     Many people have new-onset knee pain that goes away by itself in a few days.  However, if you have marked knee swelling or a fever, or if you can't bear weight,  you should seek urgent medical attention.
•    The most common reason for needing total knee replacement surgery is knee osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, most often caused by wear and tear. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of disability in older people
•    The purpose of knee replacement surgery is to relieve pain, restore range of motion, and to improve walking ability and muscle strength

To assess the benefit of physiotherapy, researchers reviewed six trials involving more than 600 patients with osteoarthritis who had undergone elective knee replacement surgery. Effectiveness was measured in terms of improving function, quality of life, walking, range of motion in the knee joint, and muscle strength.

At three months, treatment with physiotherapy increased range of motion by nearly three degrees; however, the beneficial effect did not extend past one year.

Based on these findings, it is reasonable for patients undergoing knee replacement surgery to engage in physiotherapy following surgery to provide short term improvement. Additional research is needed to help experts determine which exercise programs are most effective and long-lasting.

For Insidermedicine in Depth, I'm Dr. Susan Sharma.