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A new integrated behavioural intervention for knee osteoarthritis: development and pilot study
BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, Volume: 22, Issue: 1
Swansea University Author: Chelsea Starbuck
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Background: Exercise-based approaches have been a cornerstone of physiotherapy management of knee osteoarthritis for many years. However, clinical effects are considered small to modest and the need for continued adherence identified as a barrier to clinical efficacy. While exercise-based approaches...
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Background: Exercise-based approaches have been a cornerstone of physiotherapy management of knee osteoarthritis for many years. However, clinical effects are considered small to modest and the need for continued adherence identified as a barrier to clinical efficacy. While exercise-based approaches focus on muscle strengthening, biomechanical research has identified that people with knee osteoarthritis over activate their muscles during functional tasks. Therefore, we aimed to create a new behavioural intervention, which integrated psychologically informed practice with biofeedback training to reduce muscle overactivity, and which was suitable for delivery by a physiotherapist.Methods: Through literature review, we created a framework linking theory from pain science with emerging biomechanical concepts related to overactivity of the knee muscles. Using recognised behaviour change theory, we then mapped a set of intervention components which were iteratively developed through ongoing testing and consultation with patients and physiotherapists.Results: The underlying framework incorporated ideas related to central sensitisation, motor responses to pain and also focused on the idea that increased knee muscle overactivity could result from posturalcompensation. Building on these ideas, we created an intervention with five components: making sense of pain, general relaxation, postural deconstruction, responding differently to pain and functional muscle retraining. The intervention incorporated a range of animated instructional videos to communicate concepts related to pain and biomechanical theory and also used EMG biofeedback to facilitate visualization of muscle patterns. User feedback was positive with patients describing the intervention as enabling them to “create a new normal” and to be “in control of their own treatment.” Furthermore, large reductions in pain were observed from 11 patients who received a prototype version of the intervention.Conclusion: We have created a new intervention for knee osteoarthritis, designed to empower individuals with capability and motivation to change muscle activation patterns and beliefs associated with pain. We refer to this intervention as Cognitive Muscular Therapy. Preliminary feedback and clinical indications are positive, motivating future large-scale trials to understand potential efficacy. It is possible that this new approach could bring about improvements in the pain associated with knee osteoarthritis without the need for continued adherence to muscle strengthening programmes.Trial registration: ISRCTN51913166 (Registered 24-02-2020, Retrospectively registered)
Knee osteoarthritis, Intervention, Behaviour change, Biopsychosocial, Biomechanical, Pain, Co-contraction, EMG
College of Engineering
This paper presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), UK, under its Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme (Grant Reference Number PB-PG-0816-20024.