Video physio as effective as in-person for chronic knee pain relief


New research published in The Lancet reveals a groundbreaking finding: Australians suffering from chronic knee pain experience similar relief whether they undergo physiotherapy sessions via video or attend traditional in-person consultations.

Led by University of Melbourne Professor Rana Hinman from the Department of Physiotherapy, the study highlights the potential for telehealth to revolutionise treatment accessibility, especially for those in regional and remote areas.

The clinical trial, which involved 394 adults grappling with knee problems consistent with osteoarthritis, showcased promising results. Over three months, participants underwent five consultations aimed at improving muscle strength, physical activity and self-management knowledge, with 190 individuals receiving video consults and 204 attending in-person sessions across 27 Australian clinics.

Surprisingly, both groups experienced a significant reduction in knee pain, with a 50% average decrease reported among video consult recipients compared to 48% among those attending in-person sessions. These findings challenge conventional norms and underscore the potential for telehealth to bridge geographical gaps in healthcare access.

Professor Hinman emphasised the significance of these results, particularly for the 22% of Australians aged 45 and over grappling with osteoarthritis, a common and sometimes debilitating condition. “This research shows that for people with chronic knee pain, who often have mobility issues or live in regional and rural parts of the country, videoconferencing with a physiotherapist is as effective as an in-person consultation—but without the inconvenience of traveling to a clinic.”

“This opens up avenues for those people who may require ongoing physiotherapy to manage chronic knee pain,” Professor Hinman said.

Furthermore, the study sheds light on the need for telerehabilitation training for physiotherapists to meet evolving healthcare demands. As Professor Hinman emphasised, “This research builds on previous work and has ramifications for the industry around how rehabilitation services for musculoskeletal complaints can be delivered. It also shows that telerehabilitation training is warranted for physiotherapists, to be able to expand on the care and support they already provide in-person.”

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