Mind - Body Uplifted After Exercise

Exercise for osteoarthritis led to physical and psychological changes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Exercise can play a key role in the treatment of osteoarthritis. However, the benefits of exercise may depend on a patient's physical and mental state.

Patients with knee osteoarthritis may benefit more from exercise therapy if their knee stability improves, according to a recent study.

In other words, improved knee stability was associated with better treatment outcomes after exercise therapy for patients with knee osteoarthritis.

"Stay active to protect your joints."

While exercise is a huge part of treating osteoarthritis, not every patient responds the same to physical activity.

Understanding how changes in physical and mental factors after exercise treatment are linked to treatment outcomes could be important when it comes to designing exercise programs for knee osteoarthritis, said G. Kelley Fitzgerald, PT, PhD, FAPTA, of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues.

Fitzgerald and fellow researchers set out to see if changes to these physical and mental factors were linked to changes in pain and function after patients took part in an exercise program for people with knee osteoarthritis.

The physical and mental factors that were studied included:

  • knee instability
  • strength of quadriceps (muscles on the front of the thigh)
  • range of motion of the knee and ankle
  • flexibility of lower extremity muscles, or muscles of the legs and feet
  • fear of physical activity
  • anxiety
  • symptoms of depression

Results showed that knee instability and fear of physical activity were the only two factors linked to patients' treatment response. That is, improvements in only these two factors were associated with improvements in pain and function after the exercise program.

The researchers defined treatment response as a 20 percent improvement in knee pain and function (as measured by the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index, or WOMAC).

The only two factors associated with treatment response were change in self-reported knee instability, with an odds ratio of 1.67, and fear of physical activity, with an odds ratio of 0.93.

An odds ratio explains how much an event happens in one group versus another. An odds ratio of more than 1.0 means the first group has higher odds of that event.

In this study, improvement in knee instability and fear of physical activity were associated with higher odds of a good treatment response after exercise therapy in patients with knee osteoarthritis, the authors concluded.

The study included 152 people.

The research was funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

The study was published October 27 in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 29, 2012
Last Updated:
March 7, 2013