We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the effectiveness of interferential current therapy (IFC) in patients with knee osteoarthritis. We searched PubMed, Cochrane Library, Embase, ClinicalKey, and Scopus for relevant studies from their date of launch to March 22, 2022. We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in which IFC was applied to knee osteoarthritis patients and the outcomes of pain scores or functional scales were assessed. Ten RCTs with 493 patients met the inclusion criteria. Nine RCTs were included in the meta-analysis. The IFC groups exhibited significant improvements relative to the control groups for short-term pain scores (SMD = − 0.64, 95% CI − 1.04 to − 0.25, P = 0.001), long-term pain scores (SMD = − 0.36, 95% CI − 0.60 to − 0.11, P = 0.005), and short-term Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index scores (SMD = − 0.39, 95% CI − 0.77 to − 0.02, P = 0.04). All included studies did not observe any obvious adverse effects of IFC. IFC can be recommended as a treatment for knee osteoarthritis because it improves short- and long-term pain and short-term function. However, large-scale and high-quality RCTs with longer follow-up are required to establish an appropriate standardized treatment.
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