Misunderstanding Exercise for Knee Pain

Patients with knee pain may be uncertain about the role of exercise for their condition

(RxWiki News) If your knee hurts, exercise might not be on the top of your list of things to do. Nevertheless, staying physically active is a key part of managing knee pain.

Many older adults may be uncertain about the benefits of exercise for knee pain, according to a recent study from Arthritis Research UK.

This finding may explain why people with knee pain do not get enough exercise.

"Stay active to control knee pain."

"Older adults with knee pain report low levels of exercise and physical activity," said Dr. Melanie A. Holden, of Keele University in the UK, along with contributing colleagues.

"One explanation for this might be that they believe exercise is unhelpful or even harmful for knee pain," they said.

To test this possible explanation, Dr. Holden and colleagues looked into the beliefs and attitudes of older adults about the role of exercise for managing knee pain.

They found that there was large uncertainty about the benefits of exercise.

For their study, the researchers mailed a questionnaire to more than 2,000 adults. The questionnaire included statements to which participants agreed or disagreed. The researchers then conducted interviews with 22 of the participants.

Less than half of participants agreed on any statement relating to the benefits of exercise for knee pain.

From the interviews, the researchers found that beliefs and attitudes about exercise for knee pain were tied to patients' perceptions about their knee problems.

In addition, they found that participants had many different barriers and facilitators to exercise and physical activity. That is, people were driven to exercise or held back from exercise for many different reasons.

Some of these barriers or facilitators related to the individual or the knee problem itself while others related to social or environmental factors.

"The overall uncertainty within the community about the role of exercise for knee pain highlights the challenges faced by those living with knee pain in completing physical activity, and for health care professionals prescribing exercise for this patient group," the authors concluded.

The research was funded by Arthritis Research UK and the Physiotherapy Research Foundation among others.

The study was published September 27 in Arthritis Care & Research, American College of Rheumatology.

Review Date: 
October 4, 2012