Physical therapy for knee arthritis tends to cost patients more and involves a lot more hassle than a quick steroid shot to soothe an aching joint.
But in a new study from Brooke Army Medical Center, researchers found in the long run, physical therapy is at least as cost-effective as steroid injections and is more likely to provide longer-term relief.
They say that even though maybe the initial costs of physical therapy are a little bit higher over the course of the year, in the long run, the amount of benefit you got from physical therapy made it more cost-effective.
People with knee arthritis typically have two main options for treatment outside surgery—either get a steroid injection to ease swelling and pain, or go through a round of physical therapy.
In the study, the team tracked 156 people who were assigned to receive either steroid injections or physical therapy.
They found Knee-related medical costs averaged $2,113 in the injection group and $2,131 in the physical therapy group.
But patients also were more likely to receive more long-lasting benefits from physical therapy when it comes to mobility and pain.
For example, four people in the knee injection group required surgery, while none of the physical therapy group did.
The team says injections tend to be a quick and easy fix for pain but they wear off over time.
When people have an active intervention like exercise, its going to have longer-lasting effects because it strengthens the knee so then patients have a little more function.
The injection doesn’t change the strength of your knee, and once the pain goes away, the knee isn’t necessarily functioning any better if patients haven’t strengthened it.
The team says people who want to deal with knee pain outside of surgery should also consider weight loss and exercise as options.
If you care about wellness, please read studies about 5-minute exercise that could reduce high blood pressure, and fruit extract that may reduce muscle soreness by nearly 50% after exercise.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about common exercises that could protect against cognitive decline, and results showing that exercise may help treat Alzheimer’s disease.
The study is published in JAMA Network Open, and was conducted by Daniel Rhon et al.
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