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OARSI – Recommendation X: Hot and cold therapy can be effective for knee OA

July 22, 2010

This is a continuation of our series on the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) recommendations for the management of hip and knee osteoarthritis published in the Journal of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage.

Knee Therapy

Heat Therapy for Knee OA

Recommendation X

Some types of hot and cold therapy are effective at relieving symptoms in hip and knee osteoarthritis.

Hot and cold therapies are frequently used to treat symptoms in patients with hip and knee osteoarthritis.  They can include hot packs, cold packs, immersion in warm water, and ice massages.

Evidence supporting the use of these treatment options for knee osteoarthritis is limited.  One systematic review looked at two randomized controlled trials.  The results were that quadriceps strength was increased but the range of movement and walking was not effected in a statistically significant manner.

There have been no controlled trials with hot and cold therapy for patients with hip osteoarthritis.

The research team gave this osteoarthritis treatment option a Strength of Recommendation score of 64%.

W. Zhang Ph.D., Moskowitz M.D., et al. OARSI recommendations for the management of hip and knee osteoarthritis, Part II: OARSI evidence-based, expert consensus guidelines. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. (2008) 16, 137-162.


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