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Massage Offers Short-Term Relief of Knee Pain in Arthritis Patients

Findings among patients with knee osteoarthritis; long-term benefit unclear

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Weekly massage sessions may provide short-term symptom relief for knee osteoarthritis patients, but the benefit is not maintained over one year of follow-up, according to a study published online Dec. 12 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Adam Perlman, M.D., from Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues conducted a multisite trial in which adults with knee osteoarthritis were randomized to 60 minutes of massage, light-touch (active control), or usual care. In total, 222 adults enrolled in the study, 200 completed eight-week assessments, and 175 completed 52-week assessments.

The researchers found that at eight weeks, massage significantly improved Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) global scores versus light-touch and usual care. Further, on WOMAC subscale scores, massage improved pain, stiffness, and physical function, compared to light-touch and usual care. However, at 52 weeks, the change in WOMAC global scores from baseline to 52 weeks was not significant. No significant adverse events were reported.

“Massage therapy is one of the most popular complementary medicine interventions,” Perlman said in a statement. “At a time when people are looking for effective nonmedication options for pain, this study provides further evidence that massage has a potential role, at least for those suffering with osteoarthritis.”

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