Researchers at the University of Nottingham in the UK and Joint Academy have found that a clinical evidence-based digital treatment for osteoarthritis is more effective in relieving symptoms of the condition than traditional treatment options.
Over 32 million adults in the US are affected by osteoarthritis. Treatments to slow the progression of the condition are limited, and joint-replacement surgery is expensive. While the first-line treatment for the condition is information, exercise and weight control, these guidelines are often underutilized.
For the present study, 105 people aged 45 and over, each with a diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis, participated in the study. The participants were split into two groups at random. One group was treated digitally and was connected with licensed physical therapists via a smartphone app who gave them daily exercises and general education on the condition.
Meanwhile, the other group continued their traditional self-management program and visited their general practitioner when needed. Both groups participated in the study for a total of six weeks.
At the end of the six-week study period, the researchers found that patients receiving digital treatment reduced their pain by 41%, whereas those receiving traditional care only saw a pain reduction of 6%. The researchers further noted that those in the digital group also performed better in 30-second sit-to-stand tests and Timed Up-and-Go test.
"The results of the study really show how much can be gained by treating chronic knee pain digitally, and this will help reduce the burden on the healthcare system, especially when we are going through the COVID-19 pandemic where services are already stretched. " says Sameer Akram Gohir, one of the researchers behind the study, "We hope this study allows health policy-makers to consider the potential in digital alternatives when it comes to treating knee arthritis."