Pilot study of the effects of a heat-retaining knee sleeve on joint pain, stiffness, and function in patients with knee osteoarthritis

Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202-5100, USA.
Arthritis & Rheumatology (Impact Factor: 7.76). 10/2004; 51(5):716-21. DOI: 10.1002/art.20683
Source: PubMed


To identify changes in joint pain, stiffness, and functional ability in patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) after use of a knee sleeve that prevents loss of body heat by the joint.
Subjects with symptomatic knee OA (n = 52) were randomized to 2 treatment groups: verum sleeve (specially fabricated to retain body heat) or placebo sleeve (standard cotton/elastane sleeve). Subjects wore the sleeve over the more painful OA knee for at least 12 hours daily for 4 weeks. Pain, stiffness, and functional impairment (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index [WOMAC]) in the index knee were measured at baseline and after 4 weeks of wear, after which sleeve use was discontinued. Telephone followup interviews were conducted 2 and 4 weeks later.
After 4 weeks of sleeve wear, subjects in the active treatment group reported a 16% decrease in mean WOMAC pain score relative to baseline (P = 0.001). Those who wore the placebo sleeve reported a 9.7% decrease from baseline (P = 0.002). The difference between treatment groups was not statistically significant (P = 0.12). However, it was found that the 12 subjects who believed correctly that they had received the verum sleeve reported a highly significant decrease in WOMAC pain score (-27.5% relative to baseline, P = 0.0001). In comparison, subjects who received the verum sleeve but believed they had received the placebo sleeve exhibited only a marginally significant improvement in pain (-13.0% relative to baseline, P = 0.07). In the placebo group, the modest improvement in pain scores appeared unrelated to the subject's impression of the type of sleeve worn.
This pilot study was insufficiently powered to be a definitive trial of the heat-retaining sleeve. Given the magnitude of changes in knee pain in the active treatment group, heat retention merits further scientific investigation as a treatment modality for patients with knee OA.

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    • "Thus, although the heat application period of Mazzuca et al. (2004) is longer than this research, it is possible that no significant differences are obtained in experiment and control groups for WOMAC pain, WOMAC stiffness and WOMAC disability scores. The mean WOMAC OA Index score obtained before the intervention in our study was compared with the findings of the studies on the patients' OA knee/s by Dinçer et al. (2006), O ¨ nes¸et al. (2006) and Mazzuca et al. (2004), and it was determined that the patients of our study experienced less pain, stiffness and disability in daily activities before the intervention than the patients reported in above-mentioned studies. The results of the study by Dinçer et al. (2006), "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim in this study was to evaluate the effect of local heat application on pain, stiffness, physical function and quality of life in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Local heat application is used as a non-pharmacological practice for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. On the other hand, literature reveals limited information on the effects of heat application. The study was a comparative study. The patients with knee osteoarthritis were divided into two groups (23 patients in each) as intervention and control groups, and patients in the control group were applied with the routine medication of the physician. The intervention group received 20-minute heat application every other day for four weeks in addition to the routine medication. The data were collected using data collection form, Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Index and SF-36. The Western Ontario and McMaster Universities pain and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities disability scores of the patients with knee osteoarthritis in control and intervention groups before and after the intervention were compared, and the differences for both scores in the change were found to be statistically significant (p < 0.05). Moreover, statistically significant differences were found between the control and intervention group patients in terms of changes in the scores for physical function, pain and general health perception (p < 0.05). It was found that heat application every other day decreased pain and disability of the patients with knee osteoarthritis. Also, heat application was found to improve the subdimensions of quality of life scores of physical function, pain and general health perception of patients. The data obtained in this study on the efficiency of heat application on pain, stiffness, physical function and general health perception of patients with knee osteoarthritis may offer an insight into decision-making process for appropriate intervention.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2010 · Journal of Clinical Nursing
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    • "However, results with knee sleeves appeared not as good as those with unloading valgus knee braces for pain at rest or effort. Heatretaining sleeves composed of lycra, polyester and aluminium fibers were evaluated in one study [7] and compared with standard devices. After 4 weeks of use, 12 hours per day, WOMAC scores for pain, stiffness and physical disability did not differ. "
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    ABSTRACT: To develop clinical practice guidelines concerning the use of bracing--rest orthosis, knee sleeves and unloading knee braces--for knee osteoarthritis. The French Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Society (SOFMER) methodology, associating a systematic literature review, collection of everyday clinical practice, and external review by multidisciplinary expert panel, was used. Few high-level studies of bracing for knee osteoarthritis were found. No evidence exists for the effectiveness of rest orthosis. Evidence for knee sleeves suggests that they decrease pain in knee osteoarthritis, and their use is associated with subjective improvement. These actions do not appear to depend on a local thermal effect. The effectiveness of knee sleeves for disability is not demonstrated for knee osteoarthritis. Short- and mid-term follow-up indicates that valgus knee bracing decreases pain and disability in medial knee osteoarthritis, appears to be more effective than knee sleeves, and improves quality of life, knee proprioception, quadriceps strength, and gait symmetry, and decreases compressive loads in the medial femoro-tibial compartment. However, results of response to valgus knee bracing remain inconsistent; discomfort and side effects can result. Thrombophlebitis of the lower limbs has been reported with the braces. Braces, whatever kind, are infrequently prescribed in clinical practice for osteoarthritis of the lower limbs. Modest evidence exists for the effectiveness of bracing--rest orthosis, knee sleeves and unloading knee braces--for knee osteoarthritis, with only low level recommendations for its use. Braces are prescribed infrequently in French clinical practice for osteoarthritis of the knee. Randomized clinical trials concerning bracing in knee osteoarthritis are still necessary.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2009 · Joint, bone, spine: revue du rhumatisme

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