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1.  Efficacy of a physiotherapy rehabilitation program for individuals undergoing arthroscopic management of femoroacetabular impingement – the FAIR trial: a randomised controlled trial protocol 
Background
Femoroacetabular impingement is a common cause of hip/groin symptoms and impaired functional performance in younger sporting populations and results from morphological abnormalities of the hip in which the proximal femur abuts against the acetabular rim. Many people with symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement undergo arthroscopic hip surgery to correct the bony abnormalities. While many case series over the past decade have reported favourable surgical outcomes, it is not known whether formal rehabilitation is needed as part of the management of patients undergoing this surgical procedure. This randomised controlled trial will investigate the efficacy of a progressive physiotherapist-supervised rehabilitation program (Takla-O’Donnell Protocol) in improving health-related quality of life, physical function and symptoms in individuals undergoing arthroscopic management of femoroacetabular impingement.
Methods/design
100 people aged 16–35 years undergoing hip arthroscopy for symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement will be recruited from surgical practices in Melbourne, Australia and randomly allocated to either a physiotherapy or control group. Both groups will receive written information and one standardised post-operative physiotherapy visit whilst in hospital as per usual care. Those in the physiotherapy group will also receive seven individual 30-minute physiotherapy sessions, including one pre-operative visit (within 2 weeks of surgery) and six post-operative visits at fortnightly intervals (commencing two weeks after surgery). The physiotherapy intervention will incorporate education and advice, manual techniques and prescription of a progressive rehabilitation program including home, aquatic and gym exercises. The control group will not receive additional physiotherapy management. Measurements will be taken at baseline (2 weeks pre-operatively) and at 14 and 24 weeks post-surgery. Primary outcomes are the International Hip Outcome Tool and the sports subscale of the Hip Outcome Score at 14 weeks post-surgery. Secondary outcomes include the Copenhagen Hip and Groin Outcome Score, the activities of daily living subscale of the Hip Outcome Score, the Heidelberg Sports Activity Score, a modified Tegner Activity Scale and participant-perceived overall change.
Discussion
The findings from this randomised controlled trial will provide evidence for the efficacy of a specific physiotherapist-supervised rehabilitation program in improving outcomes following arthroscopic management of symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry reference number: ACTRN12613000282785.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-58
PMCID: PMC3941691  PMID: 24571824
Physiotherapy; Physical therapy; Rehabilitation; Hip arthroscopy; Femoroacetabular impingement
2.  Unloading shoes for osteoarthritis of the knee: protocol for the SHARK randomised controlled trial 
Background
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a common and disabling condition. Abnormalities in knee loading play an important role in disease pathogenesis, yet there are few non-surgical treatments for knee OA capable of reducing knee load. This two-arm randomised controlled trial is investigating the efficacy of specially-designed unloading shoes for the treatment of symptoms in people with knee OA.
Methods/Design
164 people with symptomatic medial tibiofemoral joint OA will be recruited from the community and randomly allocated to receive either unloading shoes or control shoes. Unloading shoes have a specially-designed triple-density midsole where the medial side is softer than normal and the lateral side harder as well as a lateral wedge between the sole and sock-liner. Control shoes are standard athletic shoes and do not contain these features. Participants will be blinded to shoe allocation and will be instructed to wear the shoes as much as possible every day for 6 months, for a minimum of 4 hours per day. The primary outcomes are knee pain (numerical rating scale) and self-reported physical function (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index) measured at baseline and 6 months. Secondary outcomes include additional measures of knee pain, knee stiffness, participant global ratings of change in symptoms, quality-of-life and physical activity.
Conclusions
The findings from this study will help determine whether specially-designed unloading shoes are efficacious in the management of knee OA.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry reference: ACTRN12613000851763.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-48
PMCID: PMC3942305  PMID: 24555418
3.  Strength Training for Arthritis Trial (START): design and rationale 
Background
Muscle loss and fat gain contribute to the disability, pain, and morbidity associated with knee osteoarthritis (OA), and thigh muscle weakness is an independent and modifiable risk factor for it. However, while all published treatment guidelines recommend muscle strengthening exercise to combat loss of muscle mass and strength in knee OA patients, previous strength training studies either used intensities or loads below recommended levels for healthy adults or were generally short, lasting only 6 to 24 weeks. The efficacy of high-intensity strength training in improving OA symptoms, slowing progression, and affecting the underlying mechanisms has not been examined due to the unsubstantiated belief that it might exacerbate symptoms. We hypothesize that in addition to short-term clinical benefits, combining greater duration with high-intensity strength training will alter thigh composition sufficiently to attain long-term reductions in knee-joint forces, lower pain levels, decrease inflammatory cytokines, and slow OA progression.
Methods/Design
This is an assessor-blind, randomized controlled trial. The study population consists of 372 older (age ≥ 55 yrs) ambulatory, community-dwelling persons with: (1) mild-to-moderate medial tibiofemoral OA (Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) = 2 or 3); (2) knee neutral or varus aligned knee ( -2° valgus ≤ angle ≤ 10° varus); (3) 20 kg.m-2 ≥ BMI ≤ 45 kg.m-2; and (3) no participation in a formal strength-training program for more than 30 minutes per week within the past 6 months. Participants are randomized to one of 3 groups: high-intensity strength training (75-90% 1Repetition Maximum (1RM)); low-intensity strength training (30-40%1RM); or healthy living education. The primary clinical aim is to compare the interventions’ effects on knee pain, and the primary mechanistic aim is to compare their effects on knee-joint compressive forces during walking, a mechanism that affects the OA disease pathway. Secondary aims will compare the interventions’ effects on additional clinical measures of disease severity (e.g., function, mobility); disease progression measured by x-ray; thigh muscle and fat volume, measured by computed tomography (CT); components of thigh muscle function, including hip abductor strength and quadriceps strength, and power; additional measures of knee-joint loading; inflammatory and OA biomarkers; and health-related quality of life.
Discussion
Test-retest reliability for the thigh CT scan was: total thigh volume, intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) = 0.99; total fat volume, ICC = 0.99, and total muscle volume, ICC = 0.99. ICC for both isokinetic concentric knee flexion and extension strength was 0.93, and for hip-abductor concentric strength was 0.99. The reliability of our 1RM testing was: leg press, ICC = 0.95; leg curl, ICC = 0.99; and leg extension, ICC = 0.98. Results of this trial will provide critically needed guidance for clinicians in a variety of health professions who prescribe and oversee treatment and prevention of OA-related complications. Given the prevalence and impact of OA and the widespread availability of this intervention, assessing the efficacy of optimal strength training has the potential for immediate and vital clinical impact.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01489462
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-208
PMCID: PMC3722013  PMID: 23855596
4.  Addition of telephone coaching to a physiotherapist-delivered physical activity program in people with knee osteoarthritis: A randomised controlled trial protocol 
Background
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common and costly chronic musculoskeletal conditions world-wide and is associated with substantial pain and disability. Many people with knee OA also experience co-morbidities that further add to the OA burden. Uptake of and adherence to physical activity recommendations is suboptimal in this patient population, leading to poorer OA outcomes and greater impact of associated co-morbidities. This pragmatic randomised controlled trial will investigate the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of adding telephone coaching to a physiotherapist-delivered physical activity intervention for people with knee OA.
Methods/Design
168 people with clinically diagnosed knee OA will be recruited from the community in metropolitan and regional areas and randomly allocated to physiotherapy only, or physiotherapy plus nurse-delivered telephone coaching. Physiotherapy involves five treatment sessions over 6 months, incorporating a home exercise program of 4–6 exercises (targeting knee extensor and hip abductor strength) and advice to increase daily physical activity. Telephone coaching comprises 6–12 telephone calls over 6 months by health practitioners trained in applying the Health Change Australia (HCA) Model of Health Change to provide behaviour change support. The telephone coaching intervention aims to maximise adherence to the physiotherapy program, as well as facilitate increased levels of participation in general physical activity. The primary outcomes are pain measured by an 11-point numeric rating scale and self-reported physical function measured by the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index subscale after 6 months. Secondary outcomes include physical activity levels, quality-of-life, and potential moderators and mediators of outcomes including self-efficacy, pain coping and depression. Relative cost-effectiveness will be determined from health service usage and outcome data. Follow-up assessments will also occur at 12 and 18 months.
Discussion
The findings will help determine whether the addition of telephone coaching sessions can improve sustainability of outcomes from a physiotherapist-delivered physical activity intervention in people with knee OA.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry reference: ACTRN12612000308897
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-246
PMCID: PMC3552972  PMID: 23231928
5.  Acute low back pain is marked by variability: An internet-based pilot study 
Background
Pain variability in acute LBP has received limited study. The objectives of this pilot study were to characterize fluctuations in pain during acute LBP, to determine whether self-reported 'flares' of pain represent discrete periods of increased pain intensity, and to examine whether the frequency of flares was associated with back-related disability outcomes.
Methods
We conducted a cohort study of acute LBP patients utilizing frequent serial assessments and Internet-based data collection. Adults with acute LBP (lasting ≤3 months) completed questionnaires at the time of seeking care, and at both 3-day and 1-week intervals, for 6 weeks. Back pain was measured using a numerical pain rating scale (NPRS), and disability was measured using the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). A pain flare was defined as 'a period of increased pain lasting at least 2 hours, when your pain intensity is distinctly worse than it has been recently'. We used mixed-effects linear regression to model longitudinal changes in pain intensity, and multivariate linear regression to model associations between flare frequency and disability outcomes.
Results
42 of 47 participants (89%) reported pain flares, and the average number of discrete flare periods per patient was 3.5 over 6 weeks of follow-up. More than half of flares were less than 4 hours in duration, and about 75% of flares were less than one day in duration. A model with a quadratic trend for time best characterized improvements in pain. Pain decreased rapidly during the first 14 days after seeking care, and leveled off after about 28 days. Patients who reported a pain flare experienced an almost 3-point greater current NPRS than those not reporting a flare (mean difference [SD] 2.70 [0.11]; p < 0.0001). Higher flare frequency was independently associated with a higher final ODI score (ß [SE} 0.28 (0.08); p = 0.002).
Conclusions
Acute LBP is characterized by variability. Patients with acute LBP report multiple distinct flares of pain, which correspond to discrete increases in pain intensity. A higher flare frequency is associated with worse disability outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-220
PMCID: PMC3198993  PMID: 21974962
6.  Does lumbar spinal degeneration begin with the anterior structures? A study of the observed epidemiology in a community-based population 
Background-
Prior studies that have concluded that disk degeneration uniformly precedes facet degeneration have been based on convenience samples of individuals with low back pain. We conducted a study to examine whether the view that spinal degeneration begins with the anterior spinal structures is supported by epidemiologic observations of degeneration in a community-based population.
Methods-
361 participants from the Framingham Heart Study were included in this study. The prevalences of anterior vertebral structure degeneration (disk height loss) and posterior vertebral structure degeneration (facet joint osteoarthritis) were characterized by CT imaging. The cohort was divided into the structural subgroups of participants with 1) no degeneration, 2) isolated anterior degeneration (without posterior degeneration), 3) combined anterior and posterior degeneration, and 4) isolated posterior degeneration (without anterior structure degeneration). We determined the prevalence of each degeneration pattern by age group < 45, 45-54, 55-64, ≥65. In multivariate analyses we examined the association between disk height loss and the response variable of facet joint osteoarthritis, while adjusting for age, sex, BMI, and smoking.
Results-
As the prevalence of the no degeneration and isolated anterior degeneration patterns decreased with increasing age group, the prevalence of the combined anterior/posterior degeneration pattern increased. 22% of individuals demonstrated isolated posterior degeneration, without an increase in prevalence by age group. Isolated posterior degeneration was most common at the L5-S1 and L4-L5 spinal levels. In multivariate analyses, disk height loss was independently associated with facet joint osteoarthritis, as were increased age (years), female sex, and increased BMI (kg/m2), but not smoking.
Conclusions-
The observed epidemiology of lumbar spinal degeneration in the community-based population is consistent with an ordered progression beginning in the anterior structures, for the majority of individuals. However, some individuals demonstrate atypical patterns of degeneration, beginning in the posterior joints. Increased age and BMI, and female sex may be related to the occurrence of isolated posterior degeneration in these individuals.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-202
PMCID: PMC3182965  PMID: 21914197
degenerative cascade; degeneration; disk; facet joint; arthritis; lumbar; spine
7.  Bias in the physical examination of patients with lumbar radiculopathy 
Background
No prior studies have examined systematic bias in the musculoskeletal physical examination. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of bias due to prior knowledge of lumbar spine magnetic resonance imaging findings (MRI) on perceived diagnostic accuracy of the physical examination for lumbar radiculopathy.
Methods
This was a cross-sectional comparison of the performance characteristics of the physical examination with blinding to MRI results (the 'independent group') with performance in the situation where the physical examination was not blinded to MRI results (the 'non-independent group'). The reference standard was the final diagnostic impression of nerve root impingement by the examining physician. Subjects were recruited from a hospital-based outpatient specialty spine clinic. All adults age 18 and older presenting with lower extremity radiating pain of duration ≤ 12 weeks were evaluated for participation. 154 consecutively recruited subjects with lumbar disk herniation confirmed by lumbar spine MRI were included in this study. Sensitivities and specificities with 95% confidence intervals were calculated in the independent and non-independent groups for the four components of the radiculopathy examination: 1) provocative testing, 2) motor strength testing, 3) pinprick sensory testing, and 4) deep tendon reflex testing.
Results
The perceived sensitivity of sensory testing was higher with prior knowledge of MRI results (20% vs. 36%; p = 0.05). Sensitivities and specificities for exam components otherwise showed no statistically significant differences between groups.
Conclusions
Prior knowledge of lumbar MRI results may introduce bias into the pinprick sensory testing component of the physical examination for lumbar radiculopathy. No statistically significant effect of bias was seen for other components of the physical examination. The effect of bias due to prior knowledge of lumbar MRI results should be considered when an isolated sensory deficit on examination is used in medical decision-making. Further studies of bias should include surgical clinic populations and other common diagnoses including shoulder, knee and hip pathology.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-275
PMCID: PMC3009628  PMID: 21118558
8.  Phase 1 safety and tolerability study of BMP-7 in symptomatic knee osteoarthritis 
Background
There are no proven therapies that modify the structural changes associated with osteoarthritis (OA). Preclinical data suggests that intra-articular recombinant human BMP-7 (bone morphogenetic protein-7) has reparative effects on cartilage, as well as on symptoms of joint pain. The objective of this study was to determine the safety and tolerability as well as dose-limiting toxicity and maximal tolerated dose of intra-articular BMP-7. The secondary objectives were to determine the effect on symptomatic responses through 24 weeks.
Methods
This was a Phase 1, double-blind, randomized, multi-center, placebo-controlled, single-dose escalation safety study consisting of 4 dosing cohorts in participants with knee OA. Each cohort was to consist of 8 treated participants, with treatment allocation in a 3:1 active (intra-articular BMP-7) to placebo ratio. Eligible participants were persons with symptomatic radiographic knee OA over the age of 40. The primary objective of this study was to determine the safety and tolerability of BMP-7 including laboratory assessments, immunogenicity data and radiographic assessments. Secondary objectives were to determine the proportion of participants with a 20%, 50%, and 70% improvement in the WOMAC pain and function subscales at 4, 8, 12, and 24 weeks. Other secondary outcomes included the change from baseline to 4, 8, 12, and 24 weeks for the OARSI responder criteria.
Results
The mean age of participants was 60 years and 73% were female. All 33 participants who were enrolled completed the study and most adverse events were mild or moderate and were similar in placebo and BMP-7 groups. The 1 mg BMP-7 group showed a higher frequency of injection site pain and there was no ectopic bone formation seen on plain x-rays. By week 12, most participants in both the BMP-7 and placebo groups experienced a 20% improvement in pain and overall the BMP-7 group was similar to placebo with regard to this measurement. In the participants who received 0.1 mg and 0.3 mg BMP-7, there was a trend toward greater symptomatic improvement than placebo. The other secondary endpoints showed similar trends including the OARSI responder criteria for which the BMP-7 groups had more responders than placebo.
Conclusions
There was no dose limiting toxicity identified in this study. The suggestion of a symptom response, together with the lack of dose limiting toxicity provide further support for the continued development of this product for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-232
PMCID: PMC2958989  PMID: 20932341
9.  Tibiofemoral osteoarthritis affects quality of life and function in elderly Koreans, with women more adversely affected than men 
Background
The prevalence of knee osteoarthritis(OA) in East Asia is as common for men and even higher for women than that reported in the Caucasian population. Since both population aging and economic growth have taken place at a much faster pace in Asian countries, such as South Korea, one would expect knee OA to become a major public health problem. However, few studies have examined the influence of knee OA on the quality of life (QoL) and physical function in Asia. The aim of this cross-sectional study is to investigate the influence of knee osteoarthritis (OA) on the quality of life (QoL), function and lower extremity physical performance and the gender difference in its influence in elderly community residents in Korea.
Methods
Participants were from the population-based Hallym Aging Study (HAS). The mean age of the 504 study subjects was 70.2 years and 274 (54%) were women. Demographic information was obtained by questionnaire, and radiographic evaluations consisted of weight-bearing semi-flexed knee radiographs. Self-reported QoL and function were assessed using Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis (WOMAC) Index and Short Form 12-item (SF-12). Performance-based lower extremity function was assessed using the tests consisting of standing balance, usual walk and chair stands. The odds ratios(ORs) for belonging to the worst quartile of WOMAC and physical performance test were calculated by logistic regression analysis in radiographic knee OA compared to non-OA after adjustment of confounders. Scores for SF-12 items were analyzed using general linear models and means adjusted for age, BMI and OA severity were compared.
Results
Subjects with radiographic knee OA had significantly increased OR for belonging to the worst WOMAC quartile(for pain, 2.13,95% confidence interval[CI], 1.33-3.40, for stiffness, 2.94,95% CI,1.78-4.86, and for function, 2.97, 95% CI,1.83-4.81) and significantly worse SF-12 scores compared to non-OA after adjustment of age, BMI and sex. Women had worse WOMAC and SF-12 scores compared to men, regardless of the presence of radiographic knee OA after adjustment of age, BMI and OA severity. OA subjects had significantly worse performance score for usual walk and chair stands compared to non-OA subjects, but the ORs were no more significant after adjustment of sex.
Conclusions
Knee OA negatively affects the QoL and physical function in both genders, but women are more adversely affected than men.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-129
PMCID: PMC2898694  PMID: 20569450
10.  The Intensive Diet and Exercise for Arthritis (IDEA) trial: design and rationale 
Background
Obesity is the most modifiable risk factor, and dietary induced weight loss potentially the best nonpharmacologic intervention to prevent or to slow osteoarthritis (OA) disease progression. We are currently conducting a study to test the hypothesis that intensive weight loss will reduce inflammation and joint loads sufficiently to alter disease progression, either with or without exercise. This article describes the intervention, the empirical evidence to support it, and test-retest reliability data.
Methods/Design
This is a prospective, single-blind, randomized controlled trial. The study population consists of 450 overweight and obese (BMI = 27–40.5 kg/m2) older (age ≥ 55 yrs) adults with tibiofemoral osteoarthritis. Participants are randomized to one of three 18-month interventions: intensive dietary restriction-plus-exercise; exercise-only; or intensive dietary restriction-only. The primary aims are to compare the effects of these interventions on inflammatory biomarkers and knee joint loads. Secondary aims will examine the effects of these interventions on function, pain, and mobility; the dose response to weight loss on disease progression; if inflammatory biomarkers and knee joint loads are mediators of the interventions; and the association between quadriceps strength and disease progression.
Results
Test-retest reliability results indicated that the ICCs for knee joint load variables were excellent, ranging from 0.86 – 0.98. Knee flexion/extension moments were most affected by BMI, with lower reliability with the highest tertile of BMI. The reliability of the semi-quantitative scoring of the knee joint using MRI exceeded previously reported results, ranging from a low of 0.66 for synovitis to a high of 0.99 for bone marrow lesion size.
Discussion
The IDEA trial has the potential to enhance our understanding of the OA disease process, refine weight loss and exercise recommendations in this prevalent disease, and reduce the burden of disability.
Trial Registration
NCT00381290
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-10-93
PMCID: PMC2729726  PMID: 19638215
11.  The effects of hip muscle strengthening on knee load, pain, and function in people with knee osteoarthritis: a protocol for a randomised, single-blind controlled trial 
Background
Lower limb strengthening exercises are an important component of the treatment for knee osteoarthritis (OA). Strengthening the hip abductor and adductor muscles may influence joint loading and/or OA-related symptoms, but no study has evaluated these hypotheses directly. The aim of this randomised, single-blind controlled trial is to determine whether hip abductor and adductor muscle strengthening can reduce knee load and improve pain and physical function in people with medial compartment knee OA.
Methods/Design
88 participants with painful, radiographically confirmed medial compartment knee OA and varus alignment will be recruited from the community and randomly allocated to a hip strengthening or control group using concealed allocation stratified by disease severity. The hip strengthening group will perform 6 exercises to strengthen the hip abductor and adductor muscles at home 5 times per week for 12 weeks. They will consult with a physiotherapist on 7 occasions to be taught the exercises and progress exercise resistance. The control group will be requested to continue with their usual care. Blinded follow up assessment will be conducted at 12 weeks after randomisation. The primary outcome measure is the change in the peak external knee adduction moment measured during walking. Questionnaires will assess changes in pain and physical function as well as overall perceived rating of change. An intention-to-treat analysis will be performed using linear regression modelling and adjusting for baseline outcome values and other demographic characteristics.
Discussion
Results from this trial will contribute to the evidence regarding the effect of hip strengthening on knee loads and symptoms in people with medial compartment knee OA. If shown to reduce the knee adduction moment, hip strengthening has the potential to slow disease progression.
Trial Registration
Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTR12607000001493
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-121
PMCID: PMC2235855  PMID: 18067658

Results 1-11 (11)