Clinic-Based Patellar Mobilization Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Ann Fam Med. 2018 Nov;16(6):521-529. doi: 10.1370/afm.2320.


Purpose: We performed a phase 2 randomized clinical trial to evaluate the preliminary effectiveness of a clinic-based patellar mobilization therapy (PMT) in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

Methods: We recruited 208 patients with knee osteoarthritis at primary care clinics in Hong Kong. Patients were randomly assigned (1:1) to the intervention group or the control group. The intervention group received 3 PMT treatment sessions from primary care physicians at 2-month intervals, with concomitant prescription of a home-based vastus medialis oblique muscle exercise. The control group received PMT after the study period. The primary outcome was the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) pain score. Secondary outcomes included the WOMAC composite, function, and stiffness scores; the visual analog scale score for pain; objective physical function tests (30-s chair stand, 40-m walk test, timed up and go test, and EuroQol-5D). All outcomes were evaluated at baseline and at 24 weeks through intention-to-treat analysis.

Results: We observed no baseline between-group differences. The WOMAC pain score showed greater improvement in the intervention group than in the control group at 24 weeks (between-group difference - 15.6, 95% CI, - 20.5 to - 10.7, P <.001). All secondary outcomes also demonstrated significant between-group differences.

Conclusions: Patellar mobilization therapy has the potential to reduce pain and improve function and quality of life for patients with knee osteoarthritis. Future clinical trials with comparison to other active comparator controls will help determine the overall efficacy and facilitate the deployment of PMT in real-world practice.

Keywords: knee osteoarthritis; patella mobilization therapy; patellofemoral joint osteoarthritis; randomized clinical trial.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Arthralgia / etiology
  • Arthralgia / physiopathology
  • Arthralgia / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / complications
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / rehabilitation*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patella / physiopathology
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Quality of Life
  • Recovery of Function
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ChiCTR/ChiCTR-IPC-15006618