Knee OA: exercise therapy beneficial regardless of baseline activity level

  • Skou ST & al.
  • Osteoarthr Cartil
  • 1 Aug 2018

  • curated by Miriam Davis, PhD
  • Clinical Essentials
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  • Patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) who are inactive before exercise therapy and education achieve a similar benefit to patients with higher levels of preexisting physical activity.

Why this matters

  • Exercise therapy and education are beneficial for all patients with knee OA, regardless of preexisting activity level.

Study design

  • Prospective cohort study of 12,796 patients with knee OA participating in the Good Life with Osteoarthritis in Denmark.
  • Intervention consisted of 12 sessions of supervised exercise and 2 sessions of education by physical therapists.
  • Benefit was measured by mean change in knee pain by visual analog scale (1-100 points).
  • Preexisting physical activity was stratified into 5 groups: inactive, low, moderate, high, and very high physical activity according to the University of California, Los Angeles activity scale.
  • Funding: Danish Physiotherapy Association; Danish Rheumatism Association; Independent Research Fund Denmark.

Key results

  • Inactive patients at baseline had worse pain compared with other activity groups (range: 6-15 points; P<.001>
  • Inactive patients had a decrease in pain by 13.4 points (95% CI, 9.4-17.1 points) immediately postintervention and by 12.8 points (95% CI, 7.7-18.0 points) at 12 months postintervention.
  • Magnitude of pain decrease postintervention and at 12 months was similar in the inactive vs active groups.


  • Uncontrolled, nonrandomized design.

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