Comparing hot pack, short-wave diathermy, ultrasound, and TENS on isokinetic strength, pain, and functional status of women with osteoarthritic knees: a single-blind, randomized, controlled trial

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2008 Jun;87(6):443-51. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e318174e467.


Objective: To investigate the therapeutic effects of physical agents administered before isokinetic exercise in women with knee osteoarthritis.

Design: One hundred patients with bilateral knee osteoarthritis were randomized into five groups of 20 patients each: group 1 received short-wave diathermy + hot packs and isokinetic exercise; group 2 received transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation + hot packs and isokinetic exercise; group 3 received ultrasound + hot packs and isokinetic exercise; group 4 received hot packs and isokinetic exercise; and group 5 served as controls and received only isokinetic exercise.

Results: Pain and disability index scores were significantly reduced in each group. Patients in the study groups had significantly greater reductions in their visual analog scale scores and scores on the Lequesne index than did patients in the control group (group 5). They also showed greater increases than did controls in muscular strength at all angular velocities. In most parameters, improvements were greatest in groups 1 and 2 compared with groups 3 and 4.

Conclusions: Using physical agents before isokinetic exercises in women with knee osteoarthritis leads to augmented exercise performance, reduced pain, and improved function. Hot pack with a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator or short-wave diathermy has the best outcome.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Arthralgia / diagnostic imaging
  • Arthralgia / therapy*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Short-Wave Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / instrumentation*