Osteoarthritis of the knee can be treated with physical therapy (physiotherapy) or by intraarticular glucocorticoid injections, however the efficacy of these treatments in alleviating pain and improving physical function remains unclear. A randomised trial in the United States has compared the two treatments using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) score at one year as a primary outcome, where scores range from 0-240 and higher scores represent worse pain, function and stiffness. Among 156 patients (mean age 56 years), the mean (±SD) WOMAC scores at 1 year for the glucocorticoid injection group and the physical therapy group were 55.8±53.8 and 37.0±30.7, respectively. In addition, secondary outcomes at one year (including the time required to complete the Alternate Step Test, time required to complete the Timed Up and Go test and Global Rating of Change scale scores) all favoured physical therapy. It was concluded that a year after treatment, patients receiving physical therapy for osteoarthritis experienced better clinical outcomes than those receiving an intraarticular glucocorticoid injection.  The full details of the study can be viewed here.

Contributed by Australian Medication Safety Services Associate – Isabella Singh