Knee Pain Not the Reason for Inactivity

Knee osteoarthritis and pain may have little effect on achieving recommended physical activity levels

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Exercise is good for just about everyone, especially those with knee osteoarthritis. It can reduce knee pain and boost the ability to move. Unfortunately, arthritis patients may not be getting enough exercise.

A recent study showed that patients with knee osteoarthritis may not be getting the recommended amount of exercise. However, people without knee arthritis do not appear to be getting enough exercise either, suggesting that pain may not be to blame for inactivity.

Overall, lower percentages of patients with knee osteoarthritis and knee pain met the recommended levels of physical activity, compared to those without knee arthritis and pain.

But the difference was not large.

"Stay active to maintain healthy joints."

The study was conducted by Daniel K. White, PT, ScD, of Boston University, and colleagues. According to background information, it has been assumed that knee osteoarthritis and pain may keep patients from meeting physical activity guidelines. However, this assumption has not been formally tested.

Dr. White and his fellow researchers set out to determine the percentage of people with and without knee osteoarthritis and knee pain who met the recommended levels of exercise through walking.

Most experts recommend at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Not only does this amount of activity reduce joint pain and improve mobility, it can also help keep weight in check, which reduces stress on already painful joints. In addition, regular physical activity can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

According to the study by Dr. White and colleagues, many people are not meeting these recommended levels of physical activity, whether or not they have knee osteoarthritis and knee pain.

Results showed that:

  • 7.3 percent of men with knee osteoarthritis and pain and 10.1 percent of those without knee arthritis and pain met recommended physical activity levels
  • 6.3 percent of women with knee osteoarthritis and pain and 7.8 percent of those without knee arthritis and pain met recommended physical activity levels
  • 12.9 percent of men with moderate to severe pain and 10.9 percent of those with no pain met recommended physical activity levels
  • 6.7 percent of women with moderate to severe pain and 11 percent of those with no pain met recommended physical activity levels

"Disease and pain have little impact on achieving recommended physical activity levels among people with or at high risk of knee osteoarthritis," the authors concluded.

The study included 1,788 participants, 60 percent of whom were female. The research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, Older Americans Independence Center and the Foundation for Physical Therapy. The study was published November 1 in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 10, 2012
Last Updated:
December 13, 2012