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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Rutjes 2010.

Therapeutic ultrasound for osteoarthritis of the knee or hip

Rutjes AW, Nüesch E, Sterchi R, Jüni P. Therapeutic ultrasound for osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Jan;(1):CD003132. PubMed #20091539.
Tags: devices, treatment

PainSci summary of Rutjes 2010?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

This is a strangely positive update to a previously negative review of ultrasound for knee osteoarthritis. It’s strange because it’s based on just 5 small, poor quality trials … which were ostensibly positive, but none of which actually showed a clinically significant effect size. I object to the authors’ conclusions.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

MAIN RESULTS: Compared to the previous version of the review, four additional trials were identified resulting in the inclusion of five small sized trials in a total of 341 patients with knee OA. No trial included patients with hip OA. Two evaluated pulsed ultrasound, two continuous and one evaluated both pulsed and continuous ultrasound as the active treatment. The methodological quality and the quality of reporting was poor and a high degree of heterogeneity among the trials was revealed for function (88%). For pain, there was an effect in favour of ultrasound therapy, which corresponded to a difference in pain scores between ultrasound and control of -1.2 cm on a 10-cm VAS (95% CI -1.9 to -0.6 cm). For function, we found a trend in favour of ultrasound, which corresponded to a difference in function scores of -1.3 units on a standardised WOMAC disability scale ranging from 0 to 10 (95% CI -3.0 to 0.3). Safety was evaluated in two trials including up to 136 patients; no adverse event, serious adverse event or withdrawals due to adverse events occurred in either trial.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to the previous version of this review, our results suggest that therapeutic ultrasound may be beneficial for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Because of the low quality of the evidence, we are uncertain about the magnitude of the effects on pain relief and function, however. Therapeutic ultrasound is widely used for its potential benefits on both knee pain and function, which may be clinically relevant. Appropriately designed trials of adequate power are therefore warranted.

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