For patients with severe knee pain, supervised exercise therapy is more effective at reducing pain and improving function than usual care, finds a study published on bmj.com today.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a condition in which pain occurs at the front of the knee during or after exercise and is a common reason to visit the doctor. Women are more likely to be affected than men, and symptoms usually start during adolescence when participation in sporting activities is high.
General advice is to rest during periods of pain and to avoid pain provoking activities. This "wait and see" approach is considered usual care.
A recent study reported only limited evidence for the effectiveness of exercise therapy with respect to pain reduction, while there is conflicting evidence with respect to functional improvement.
This study provides evidence that supervised exercise therapy for patellofemoral pain syndrome in general practice is more effective than usual care for pain at rest, pain on activity, and function at three and 12 months, say the authors. However, supervised exercise therapy had no effect on perceived recovery.
Further research is needed to understand how exercise therapy results in better outcome, they conclude.