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Effects of the combination of pulsed electromagnetic field with progressive resistance exercise on knee osteoarthritis: A randomized controlled trial.

BACKGROUND: Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a common and disabling disease among the elderly population. The optimal conservative treatment for knee OA is not well established.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) combined with progressive resistance exercise (PRE) in improving physical function and pain in patients with knee OA.

METHODS: Thirty-four patients with knee OA (17 in each group) participated in a single-blind randomized control study. Patients were randomly assigned to receive 24 sessions of either combined PEMF and PRE (treatment group) or PRE only (control group). Patients were evaluated at pre-treatment, post-treatment (2 months), and at 3-month and 6-month follow-ups using the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS), Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS); walking speed and 5-times chair stand test. Mixed ANOVA was used for statistical analysis with Bonferroni adjustments.

RESULTS: There was no significant group-by-time interaction for any outcome (P> 0.05). However, both groups scored significantly higher on the NPRS and KOOS at post-treatment, 3-, and 6-month follow-up compared to their baseline. Further, both groups completed the 5-times chair stand test and walking speed test with significantly less time at all post-treatment time points than the pre-treatment. None of the study outcomes (NPRS, KOOS, walking speed, and 5 times chair stand) were significantly different between groups at any of the time points.

CONCLUSION: Both treatment options, PRE only versus PRE with PEMF, were equally effective in decreasing pain and improving physical function in patients with knee OA. This would suggest that the optimal parameters for PEMF that may show beneficial effects for knee OA when added to PRE training need to be determined.

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