Objective. Therapeutic approach of osteoarthritis (OA) still represents a challenge in clinical practice. The aim of the study is to assess the efficacy of far infrared (FIR) emitting plaster in the treatment of knee OA. Design. This is a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group with equal randomization (1:1), clinical trial. Patients affected by knee OA were randomly allocated to 1 of 2 treatment groups, either placebo plaster or far infrared emitting plaster. Primary endpoint was to assess pain improvement from baseline to 1 months posttreatment in the visual analogue score (VAS). Secondary end point was to evaluate pain score after 1 week of treatment and to compare ultrasonographic findings after 1 month of treatment. Results. Each group comprised 30 (in the FIR group) and 30 (in the placebo group) completers. VAS scores of the placebo and the FIR group were significantly lower at 1 week post-treatment (95% confidence interval CI = -1.14 to 0.31; P<0.05) and at the end of the study (95% confidence interval CI = -2.57 to -0.89; P=0.01). Effect size was -0.43 after one week of treatment and -1.38 after one month of treatment. The mean decrease in VAS values was ≥20% in the FIR group. The number of patients from the FIR group with joint effusion was lower (40%) compared to baseline (80%), while no changes were seen among the placebo group. Conclusions. Far infrared emitting plaster could be considered an effective non-pharmacological choice for the therapeutic management of knee OA.
Osteoarthritis, knee, ultrasound, non-pharmacological therapy, pain assessment and management