Online treatment reduces chronic knee pain from arthritis

A Web-based program of exercise and coping skills training improves both function and pain in arthritic knees, a new study suggests.

This kind of online therapy can greatly improve access to effective, nonsurgical and non-drug relief for people with osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers say.

“Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of chronic knee pain and disability globally,” lead author Kim Bennell, a researcher and physiotherapist at the University of Melbourne in Australia, said.

“It has a significant individual, societal and economic burden and on an individual level knee osteoarthritis causes loss of function, reduced quality of life, and psychological distress,” Bennell said by email.

Exercise is known as the gold standard of conservative management for knee osteoarthritis, she added. Psychological treatments, in particular, pain coping skills training that teaches people strategies to manage and cope with their painful symptoms, have also been identified as important and effective, Bennell said.

“Sadly, such effective treatments are highly underutilized in the management of osteoarthritis. One reason for this relates to the challenges of accessing a specialist who delivers these services, particularly for people living in rural areas where services may be limited or non-existent or due to the mobility issues that are experienced by people suffering chronic knee pain,” she said.

For the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, ­Bennell and her…

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