Virtual Pain Relief
It’s no secret that knee pain is prevalent in the U.S.. Participation in sports is estimated to cause 2.5 million knee injuries annually. The obesity epidemic is another contributing factor. Excess weight on the joints can accelerate wear and tear – often leading to the degeneration of cartilage. It’s a pain that affects an estimated 27 million Americans.
One of the most common knee problems is osteoarthritis – a degenerative diseases causing cartilage in the knee to wear down. As this cartilage wears down, the bones in the knee begin to rub directly against one another, creating bone spurs. Sufferers begin to experience increasing pain, sometimes to the point where they can no longer walk. Unfortunately, cartilage does not heal itself the way other tissue in the body does; due in part to the few blood vessels and nerve connections in the cartilage. As of now, there is no permanent cure to osteoarthritis, but there are treatments available that may relieve some symptoms.
Virtual Pain Relief
This disease has garnered much attention in the medical field partially due to its prevalence in our society. One study utilized the internet and technology as a tool to help alleviate symptoms. The Annals of Internal Medicine conducted a study on 148 individuals with osteoarthritis in the knee. The participants were split into two even groups.
- Participants were encouraged to research educational information pertaining to osteoarthritis utilizing the internet; information pertaining to diet, exercises, medications and physical activities.
- Participants were encouraged to do the same as group A, however, they had some additional help.
- They received an interactive, internet-based program related to pain management. The sessions were conducted once a week for eight weeks and usually lasted between 35 and 45 minutes. The methods for managing the pain included relaxation techniques, activities to distract from the pain, and more.
- They received Skype sessions with an experienced physical therapist discussing exercises to strengthen muscles located in the lower limbs. They were also given ankle weights, pedometers and resistance bands for free. The sessions consisted of seven, 30-45 minute long presentations delivered over a three month period.
- They received emails reminding and encouraging them to utilize these interventions.
Unsurprisingly, group B participants claimed they were experiencing better function and less pain than the group A participants. This improvement continued for at least six months after the conclusion of the program.
Impact of the Study
The effective utilization of virtual care is what makes this study unique. The physical therapists involved in this study were experienced professionals, however, the method of delivery for the information is unlike traditional physical therapy sessions. This method of delivery may be beneficial to sufferers without a regular source of transportation; possibly relieving pain for patients who, otherwise, may be unable to receive professional treatment.
Unfortunately, not all sufferers of osteoarthritis have the ability to participate in a study with free treatment. Professional physical therapy may be too expensive for some sufferers to afford. If you are experiencing pain due to an injury caused by someone else’s negligence, contact a personal injury lawyer. Victims of a personal injury case may be entitled to compensation for damages; the compensation may cover the costs of physical therapy with a medical professional such as a knee pain doctor.