Exercise and Osteoarthritis of the knee

A new study has shed light on the specific pain relief benefits that exercise therapy can provide for people with knee osteoarthritis.

Carried out by Aalborg University and Copenhagen University Hospitals Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg in Denmark, the study aimed to investigate the effects of exercise on pressure-pain sensitivity in patients affected by the degenerative joint disease.

For this randomised controlled trial, a total of 31 participants were assigned 12 weeks of supervised exercise therapy, with results compared to a no-attention control group of 29 patients. Pressure-pain sensitivity was assessed by cuff pressure algometry on the calf of the more symptomatic leg.

Key areas that were assessed included pressure-pain thresholds and self-reported pain using the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) questionnaire.

According to results published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, pressure-pain sensitivity and self-reported pain levels were both shown to be reduced among patients who successfully completed a 12-week supervised exercise programme, compared to those in the control group.

It is thought that the findings of this research will help to improve understanding of the mechanisms that underpin the beneficial impact that exercise can have on knee osteoarthritis pain.

The researchers said: “These results demonstrate beneficial effects of exercise on basic pain mechanisms and further exploration may provide a basis for optimised treatment.”

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, causing joints to become painful and stiff over time. The knee is one of the areas most frequently affected by this disease, reducing the patient’s mobility over time if left untreated.

We then come onto what exercise is best.  The simple answer is ALL exercise is good, as long as it does not cause too much pain or discomfort.  People always think pain is a bad thing, this isn’t the case.  At Bodylogics we often advise clients that as long as the pain stays below 4/10 on your own pain scale then it is fine to do it.  Issues lie in the aftermath of activity.  If symptoms flare up and you notice a pain increase after exercise then reduce the load and amount of time spent on the exercise.  For example, if walking for 30 minutes creates pain the following day at above the 4/10 threshold then reduce the time spent walking to 20 minutes to begin, etc….

So, our main point, do not be afraid to exercise if you have Osteoarthritis.  Exercise is proven to be a beneficial management technique of this condition as you need to ensure you exercise regularly to help reduce symptoms and get the most from your body.

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