Objective: We would like to determine whether electrotherapy, specifically microcurrent therapy, increases function and decreases pain in people who have acute knee pain.
Design: Randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial.
Setting: University laboratory and patient home.
Subjects: A total of 52 subjects (35 females and 17 males) with acute knee pain.
Intervention: Treatment group (n = 26) wore the active microcurrent therapy device at home for 3 hours per day for 4 weeks and the control group (n = 26) wore the placebo for 3 hours per day for 4 weeks.
Main measures: Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS) and Short Form 12 (SF-12) health scale were used to measure the pain level and the functionality of the participants. Secondary assessments included musculoskeletal ultrasound imaging (MSK US) and Lower Extremity Functional Scale (LEFS).
Results: A total of 52 subjects completed the study; 26 in the treatment group and 26 in the control group. Microcurrent therapy significantly reduced pain over 4 weeks. Especially week three was significant (P < 0.01) after adjusting for the family-wise error rate. The analysis on SF-12 revealed those with microcurrent therapy showed an increasing trend in the improvement of physical function score until week three.
Conclusion: An active microcurrent therapy device decreased knee pain and increased function. Microcurrent therapy may be an alternative or used with a pharmacological approach for people with acute knee pain.
Keywords: Microcurrent; electrical stimulation; knee; pain.