Effects of underwater ultrasound therapy on pain, inflammation, hand function and quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis – a randomized controlled trial

Márta Király, Zsuzsanna Varga, Ferenc Szanyó, Rita Kiss, Katalin Hodosi, T. Bender

Research output: Article

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives To investigate the effects of underwater ultrasound (US) therapy in 48 patients with moderately active rheumatoid arthritis (disease activity score in 28 joints [DAS28] > 3.2 and < 5.1). Methods Patients randomly assigned to the ultrasound group (n = 25) received underwater continuous ultrasound therapy to both wrists and hands for 7 min per session with an intensity of 0.7 W/cm2 for 10 sessions. The control group (n = 23) received sham treatment under the same conditions. At baseline, at the end of treatment (end of Week 2) and at the follow-up visit (Week 14), the following outcomes were evaluated: disease activity (erythrocyte sedimentation rate [ESR], C-reactive protein [CRP], tender and swollen joint counts, pain on a visual analog scale, DAS28, hand function (fist making, wrist extension and flexion, hand grip strength) and quality of life (Health Assessment Questionnaire [HAQ]). Results A significant decrease in C-reactive protein at the end of Week 2 and Week 14 compared to control group (mean between-group difference at 2 weeks = −5.77, 95% CI = −10.86 to −0.68, mean between-group difference at 14 weeks = −5.07, 95% CI = −10.13 to −0.01), and non-significant decrease in DAS28 was observed. By the end of treatments at the end of week 2, ultrasound alleviated pain significantly (mean between-group difference at two weeks = −8.35 95% CI = −16.12 to −0.58), as well as improved left wrist extension compared to the control group (mean between-group difference at 14 weeks = 4.35, 95% CI = 1.09–7.60). Conclusion Underwater ultrasound therapy was better than sham treatment at the end of 2 weeks of treatment, but not at long term (14 weeks) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical trial registration number: NCT02706028 (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02706028)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-205
Number of pages7
JournalBrazilian Journal of Physical Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - máj. 1 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation

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