MONDAY, March 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) — A physical therapy app that offers a self-managed exercise and education program helps to improve pain and physical function for patients with osteoarthritis, according to a study published online March 4 in PLOS ONE.

Leif E. Dahlberg, M.D., Ph.D., from Lund University in Sweden, and colleagues used data from patients with hip and knee osteoarthritis participating in a digital self-management program (0 to 24 weeks: 499 patients; 0 to 48 weeks: 138 patients).

The researchers found that for the 24-week group, pain numeric rating scale scores (0 to 10) decreased monthly by −0.43 units (mean knee pain, 5.6 to 3.1; mean hip pain, 5.9 to 3.8) and 30-second chair stand test repetitions increased monthly by 0.76 repetitions (mean for knee, 10.0 to 14.3 repetitions; mean for hip, 10.9 to 14.8). For the group with 48-week adherence, pain decreased monthly by −0.39 units (mean knee pain, 5.7 to 3.2; mean hip pain, 5.8 to 3.8) and repetitions increased by 0.72 repetitions (mean repetitions for knee, 10.3 to 14.4; mean for hip, 11.1 to 14.9).

“We expected patients to see an improvement, but these results exceeded our expectations,” a coauthor said in a statement. “This demonstrates that using digital tools when treating chronic illnesses such as osteoarthritis can work very well.”

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