Early Rehabilitation Leads to Less Surgery and Opioid Use for Nontraumatic Knee Pain

July 28, 2017 in STSMPT

A new study finds that earlier rehabilitation for nontraumatic knee pain results in lower usage of opioids, injections, and knee surgeries. The University of Pittsburgh conducted the study to test if receiving physical therapy earlier produced benefits down the road. In the end, they concluded, “Yes.”

The study analyzes the records of over 52,000 Medicare beneficiaries who had knee pain. They split the cases into four groups based on how long it took them to receive therapy. The early group received therapy within 15 days of diagnosis. The intermediate group received therapy within 15-120 days of diagnosis. The late group received therapy 6 months or more after diagnosis. The control group never received any rehabilitation. The results show that the early group is 33% less likely to use opioids than the other groups. They were also 50% less likely to move on to injections and were 42% less likely to undergo surgery.

The research team found that, for knee pain, the earlier someone received rehabilitation, the better their case would go overall. If you are experiencing nagging knee pain, see us for evaluation and recommendations. It’s good to address these issues before they progress to something more serious.


Joel M. Stevans, G. Kelley Fitzgerald, Sara R. Piva, Michael Schneider; Association of Early Outpatient Rehabilitation With Health Service Utilization in Managing Medicare Beneficiaries With Nontraumatic Knee Pain: Retrospective Cohort Study. Phys Ther 2017; 97 (6): 615-624. doi: 10.1093/ptj/pzx049

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