Knee osteoarthritis and physiotherapy – part 3

Osteoarthritis of the knee

What does recent physiotherapy research tell us?

I just returned from Amsterdam where I attended the World Physiotherapy Congress. I was fortunate to be able to present a poster of my Master’s research to a large international audience.  I previously summarized and posted my whiplash related master’s research on the West 4th Physiotherapy blog, so in this post I decided to focus on summarizing some of the most interesting research presentations I attended which focused on osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.

What exercise can I do if I already have mild knee OA?  Do I have to avoid impact activities?

J. Multanen of the University of Jyväskylä in Jyväskylä, Finland and his colleagues recruited eighty-two postmenopausal women, aged from 51 to 66 years from the Central Finland area. All of the women had mild knee OA, which was confirmed with x-rays.  The participants were randomly assigned into the exercise or control group. The exercise group carried out supervised progressive impact type aerobic and step-aerobic program for 12-months three times per week (exercises appropriate to maintaining bone health and preventing osteoporosis), while controls continued their habitual physical activities.

The high-impact exercise did not aggravate pain, stiffness or physical function among the postmenopausal women with mild knee OA.  In general, it appears that moderate impact exercises are beneficial for people with mild OA and, once again, the less active group deteriorated (6% weaker, reduced function by 23%) while the exercise group improved (reduced stiffness by 35%, improved strength by 6%, improved function by 20%).  In general, it is probably best to consult your physician and or physiotherapist prior to embarking on a new exercise program and do not participate in exercise activities at an intensity and duration high enough to cause a worsening of joint pain, stiffness, or swelling the following day.

The abstracts for all of the studies presented at the World Physiotherapy Congress will be published on the World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WCPT) web-site in late July 2011

If you would like to consult with me regarding your knee health, email me at or call West 4th Physiotherapy Clinic at 604-730-9478.

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