Objectives: To investigate whether a "standard" sized (that is, a size that would be prescribed by a physiotherapist) elastic bandage (S-bandage) around the knee of subjects with knee osteoarthritis (OA) would, in the short term (a) reduce pain, (b) improve knee joint proprioception, and (c) decrease sway in comparison with a looser (L-bandage). Methods: In a cross over, within-subject study, 68 subjects (49 women, 19 men; mean age 67.1, range 36-87) with symptomatic and radiographic knee OA were randomly assigned to either an S-bandage or an L-bandage. Two weeks later they were assigned to the opposite bandage size. Knee pain (10 cm visual analogue scale (VAS)), knee proprioception, and static postural sway were assessed for each bandage two weeks apart. During each visit assessments were performed at baseline, after 20 minutes of bandage application, and immediately after bandage removal. Results: The S-bandage did not have any effect on knee pain, proprioception, or postural sway. The L-bandage reduced knee pain significantly (pre-bandage application: median VAS 4.36, IQR 3.84 -4.90; after 20 minutes of bandage application: median VAS 3.80, IQR 3.3-4.3, p<0.001), improved static postural sway (pre-bandage: median sway 4.50, IQ range 3.5-6.4; bandage applied: median sway 4.45, IQ range 3.4-6.3, p=0.027), but had no significant influence on knee proprioception. Conclusions: In subjects with knee OA application of an elastic bandage around the knee can reduce knee pain and improve static postural sway. This outcome depends on the size of applied bandage.
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