New device may help with osteoarthritis symptoms

Scientists in the U.K. may have made a breakthrough in the treatment of knee pain caused by osteoarthritis symptoms.

Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage in the knee to wear away, which can lead to swelling and pain. Now, researchers believe that they may be able to combat that pain with vibration or "mechanical wave" therapy. Applying mechanical waves to an area of the body disrupts pain transmissions. As a result, the waves prevent the brain from registering the pain symptoms.

Vibration therapy has been used in the U.S. and the UK for many years now, and research has now shown that it could be a viable treatment option for osteoarthritis knee pain. Individuals with the disorder are able to administer this treatment themselves, obtaining pain relief without taking prescription medications.

The University of Florida (UF) News reported that vibration therapy can potentially relieve symptoms of a variety of chronic pain disorders, including fibromyalgia and migraines. Researchers at UF used a motor to create a vibration on the skin to see if it would relieve pain. According to Roland Staud, MD, the results were positive.

Patients in the UF study reported a 40 percent reduction in pain after using vibration therapy.

"This is exciting because it is something that provides pain relief that is not associated with great cost," Staud told UF News.

The device, called "Kneease," can be strapped on to the knee and worn under clothing so patients can use it whenever they feel pain symptoms. Clinical trials found that patients experienced significant pain relief and could potentially avoid knee surgery.

The CDC reports that osteoarthritis of the knee is one of the five leading causes of disability among non-institutionalized adults. The organization also states that the U.S. spends nearly 8 billion dollars a year on knee and hip replacement surgery.