Effectiveness of massage therapy as co-adjuvant treatment to exercise in osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized control trial

J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2014;27(4):521-9. doi: 10.3233/BMR-140476.


Background: The effectiveness of exercise therapy in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee (KOA) is widely evidenced. The current study aims to compare the effectiveness of massage therapy as a co-adjuvant treatment for KOA.

Methods: A blind, randomized controlled trial design was used. Eighteen women were randomly allocated to two different groups. Group A was treated with massage therapy and an exercise program, and Group B was treated with the exercise program alone. The intervention lasted for 6 weeks. Outcomes were assessed using a verbal analogue scale (VAS), the WOMAC index, and the Get-Up and Go test. Baseline, post-treatment, and 1- and 3- month follow-up data were collected. Values were considered statistically significant at a p < 0.05. The Mann-Whitney U test was applied in order to find out the differences between groups, and to verify the existence of such differences, the Friedman Test for repeated measures complemented with multiple comparisons tests was carried out.

Results: In both groups, significant differences were found in the three variables between the baseline measurement and three months after treatment, with the exception of the WOMAC variable in group B (p=0.064) No significant differences were found between both groups in the WOMAC index (p=0.508) and VAS (p=0.964) variables and the Get-Up and Go test (p=0.691).

Conclusion: Combining exercise-based therapy with massage therapy may lead to clinical improvement in patients with KOA. The use of massage therapy combined with exercise as a treatment for gonarthrosis does not seem to have any beneficial effects.

Keywords: Knee osteoarthritis; adults; exercise therapy; massage therapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology
  • Massage / methods*
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises / methods*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Analog Scale