October 2015

Addition of pain coping skills training improves knee OA therapy outcomes

In the moment: Rehabilitation

By Jordana Bieze Foster

A combined intervention of exercise therapy plus training in pain coping skills is associated with better function than either intervention alone in patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA), according to an Australian randomized controlled trial.

Investigators from the University of Melbourne randomized 222 patients with knee OA who were aged 50 years or older to receive one of the three interventions. Each intervention involved 10 supervised sessions over 12 weeks, plus a home therapy program. The exercise protocols focused on strengthening; the pain coping protocols focused on pain education and cognitive and behavioral skills for dealing with pain.

The combined-intervention group demonstrated significantly greater improvement in functional scores (assessed using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index) compared with baseline than either of the other groups at 12 and 32 weeks. Reductions in pain compared with baseline, as measured on a visual analog scale, for the combined-intervention group were not significantly greater than in the exercise-only group or the group that was trained only in pain coping skills. The findings were epublished in late September by Arthritis Care & Research.


Bennell KL, Ahamed Y, Jull G, et al. Physical therapist-delivered pain coping skills training and exercise for knee osteoarthritis: Randomized controlled trial. Arthritis Care Res 2015 Sep 28. [Epub ahead of print]

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