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Open Access Effectiveness of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

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Objective: To assess the effectiveness of pulsed electromagnetic fields compared with placebo in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee.

Data sources: A systematic review of PubMed, EMBASE, and the cochrane controlled trials Register.

Methods: Randomized, controlled trials reporting on the blinded comparison of pulsed electromagnetic fields with placebo were included. Validity was tested according to the Jadad Scale. Studies were pooled using fixed-effects and random-effects models after exclusion of publication bias and assessment of heterogeneity. Sensitivity analyses and meta-regression were performed to test the stability of our findings.

Results: Nine studies, including 483 patients, were pooled. No significant difference could be shown for pain (weighted mean difference 0.2 patients; 95% confidence interval (CI): −0.4 to 0.8) or stiffness (weighted mean difference 0.3; 95% CI: −0.3 to 0.9). There was a significant effect on activities of daily living (weighted mean difference 0.8; 95% CI 0.2–1.4, p=0.014) and scores (standardized mean difference 0.4; 95% CI: 0.05–0.8, p=0.029). We saw only statistically insignificant differences between studies with different treatment protocols.

Conclusion: Pulsed electromagnetic fields improve clinical scores and function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee and should be considered as adjuvant therapies in their management. There is still equipoise of evidence for an effect on pain in the current literature.

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Keywords: EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE; META-ANALYSIS; OSTEOARTHRITIS; PULSED ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 01 May 2009

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine is the international peer-reviewed journal published in English, with at least 10 issues published per year.

    Original articles, reviews, case reports, short communications, special reports and letters to the editor are published, as also are editorials and book reviews. The journal strives to provide its readers with a variety of topics including: functional assessment and intervention studies, clinical studies in various patient groups, methodology in physical and rehabilitation medicine, epidemiological studies on disabling conditions and reports on vocational and sociomedical aspects of rehabilitation.

    The journal is read by a wide group of healthcare professionals including specialists in rehabilitation medicine, neurology, clinical neurophysiology, general medicine, psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers.

    Contributions from all parts of the world and from different professions in rehabilitation are welcome.

    ISI Impact Factor 2009: 1.882.

    Owned by Foundation of Rehabilitation Information.

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