Aims and objectives: To investigate the effect of the self-administered superficial local hot and cold applications on pain, and the functional status and the quality of life in primary knee osteoarthritis patients.
Background: Superficial local hot and cold application is used as a nonpharmacological method for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. However, various guidelines for the management of knee osteoarthritis have conflicting recommendation for hot and cold therapy.
Design: A randomised clinical trial design.
Methods: The sample consisted of patients (n = 96) who were diagnosed with primary knee osteoarthritis. During the application stage, patients were designated to the hot and cold application groups and administered hot and cold application twice a day for 3 weeks together with standard osteoarthritis treatment. The control group only used standard osteoarthritis treatment. The data were collected with a Descriptive Information Form, a Pain Scale, the WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index, the Nottingham Health Profile (NHP) and a Patient Satisfaction Evaluation Form. Outcome measures included pain intensity, functional status and quality of life.
Results: We found decreased primary measurement pain scores and improved functional status scores and quality of life scores after the application programme compared to the pre-application stage in both the hot and cold application groups. Once the application was completed, the pain scores, functional status scores and quality-of-life scores on the second measurements were found to be still statistically lower than the pre-application scores but higher than the first measurement ([p < .001, χ2 = 48.000; p < .001, χ2 = 34.000], [p < .001, χ2 = 22.000; p = .001 χ2 =14.000] and [p = .005, χ2 = 16.000; p = .001, χ2 = 12.500]). There was no difference in the perceived pain, functional status and quality of life between the pre-application, postapplication and 2 weeks postapplication periods of the individuals in three groups (p > .05).
Conclusion: It was found that both hot and cold application resulted in a mild improvement in pain, functional status and quality of life, but this improvement was not sufficient to create a significant difference between the groups.
Relevance to clinical practice: This study contributes to the literature on hot and cold application methods as self-management strategies for patients with knee osteoarthritis.
Keywords: cold application; hot application; knee osteoarthritis.
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.