A heat-retaining sleeve worn around the knee is useful in reducing joint pain and stiffness in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, preliminary testing indicates.
However, from a statistical standpoint, the improvement was not significantly different from that produced with a standard cotton sleeve. In the October 15th issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism, Dr. Steven A. Mazzuca of Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis and colleagues note that although there is support for the use of heat in treating osteoarthritis pain, there have been few controlled studies in knee osteoarthritis. To investigate further, the researchers randomly assigned 52 people with knee arthritis to use a special heat-retaining infrared-reflective knee sleeve or a cotton-based sleeve. After 4 weeks of use, people given the heat-retaining sleeve reported a 16 percent decrease in their score on a standard osteoarthritis index. Participants using the cotton sleeve reported a 9.7 percent decrease — a difference that was not statistically significant. Subjects who correctly believed that they were given the heat-retaining sleeve, reported a 27.5 percent drop in the osteoarthritis score. Those who had the new sleeve but believed they had been given one made of cotton reported a 13 percent score reduction. The researchers conclude that although this pilot study was “insufficiently powered” to give definitive results, the outcome shows that the heat-retaining sleeve “merits further scientific investigation.” (Source: Reuters, Arthritis and Rheumatism, Nov, 2004.)