Knee osteoarthritis shows sustained improvement with land-based therapeutic exercise

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  • Among people with knee osteoarthritis, land-based therapeutic exercise provides short-term benefit that is sustained for at least 2-6 months after cessation.

Key results

  • Pooled results from 44 trials indicated that exercise significantly reduced pain (12/100 points; 95% CI 10-15) and improved physical function (10/100 points; 95% CI 8-13) to a moderate degree immediately after treatment.
  • Evidence from 13 studies revealed that exercise significantly improved quality of life immediately after treatment with small effect (4/100 points; 95% CI 2-5). 
  • 12 studies showed significantly reduced knee pain 2-6 months after cessation of formal exercise programmes (6/100 points; 95% CI 3-9). 
  • 10 studies showed improved physical function 2-6 months post-treatment (3/100 points; 95% CI 1-5).

Study design

  • Systematic review and meta-analysis of 54 randomized clinical trials comparing some form of land-based therapeutic exercise with a non-exercise control identified from five electronic databases up to May 2013. 
  • Three teams of two review authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias for each study. 
  • Standardised mean differences immediately after treatment and 2-6 months after cessation of formal treatment were separately pooled using a random effects model.