Knee Arthritis: More PT Works Better

Physical therapy ameliorates osteoarthritis progression while quickly reducing pain and improving function with effects comparable to surgery.1 Nevertheless, some patients improve with physical therapy while others do not. How can you know ahead of time if physical therapy will work for you? Dalerie Lieberz and colleagues wanted to know. They conducted a study to find predictors of clinical success.2

They reviewed the records of 706 knee arthritis patients at 34 different clinics. Researchers examined the effect of treatment protocols, prescriptions, age, and other factors. However, by far, the strongest predictor of success was the number of visits.3 Patients with only two PT visits for knee arthritis had a success rate that was 64% below the norm. Patients with five or six visits had success rates that were about the norm. The best success rates were for patients with 18 visits. Those success rates were more than six times the norm!  More than 18 PT visits were not significantly better than 18 PT visits. Research shows that the best way to make your knee arthritis rehab a success is to not end early.4 If you are experiencing knee pain, please check to see how physical therapy can help.


  1. Katz J, Brophy R, Chaisson C, et al. Surgery versus physical therapy for a meniscal tear and osteoarthritis. NEJM. Mar 19, 2013; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1301408.
  2. Lieberz D, Regal R, Conway P. Observational study: predictors of a successful functional outcome in persons who receive physical therapy for knee osteoarthritis. Evaluation & the Health Professions. 2022 Jun;45(2):137-46.
  3. Pinto D, Robertson M, Abbott J, et al. Manual therapy, exercise therapy, or both, in addition to usual care, for osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. 2: economic evaluation alongside a randomized controlled trial. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 2013; joca.2013.06.014.
  4. Fransen M, McConnell S, Harmer A, et al. Exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee. Br J Sports Med. 2015; 49 (24): 1554-1557.
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