By Jerry Moczerniuk P.T., D.P.T.
A recently updated review of research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that participants with knee osteoarthritis (OA), who completed exercise programs, experienced a moderate improvement in pain and physical function, a result taking comparable to pain and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Arthritis is a term defined simply as inflammation of the joint (the junction joining two adjacent bones). Osteoarthritis typically involves joint inflammation secondary to bony changes/disease. Trauma, genetics, and degenerative processes all play a role in development and progression of osteoarthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, approximately 27 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis, with the knee being one of the most commonly affected sites.
Most clinical practice guidelines recommend exercise as a first-line treatment for stiffness and pain in knee osteoarthritis. The review of research looked at the effectiveness of land-based exercise in improving pain, physical function, and quality of life in individuals with knee OA.
The research review included studies that compared weight-bearing, land-based therapeutic exercise regimen with a non-exercise control group. The researchers found that supervised individual exercise programs were more effective than group or home exercise programs. They concluded that any type of exercise program, performed regularly, and closely monitored by healthcare professionals can improve pain, physical function and quality of life related to knee OA in the short term.
Pain relief from an exercise program was significant at two to six months after treatment, with some minimal effects after the six-month time period. Physical function improved as well, and although pain relief may be minimal at six months post exercise program, researchers found significantly improved function, even after six months.
This research may indicate that a short (four- to six-week week) bout of skilled PT, including supervised therapeutic exercises, every six months, may significantly reduce pain and improve the quality of life in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
Remember, in New Jersey you can be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist without a referral from your doctor.
Dr. Moczerniuk is a doctor of physical therapy, a member of of the American Physical Therapy Association, and a clinical director at db Orthopedic Physical Therapy of Manalapan LLC, located at 120 Craig Road, Suite 2. Dr. Moczerniuk can be reached at 732-462-2162 or via e-mail at Jerry@dborthopt.com. Visit www.dborthopt.com for more information.