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Home Based Exercise Improves Knee Osteoarthritis Pain


A newly published study from the peer reviewed Journal of Sports Science and Medicine indicates that home based exercise programs that include balance and agility and/or resistance training can significantly reduce osteoarthritis pain in the knee:

The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of a home-based kinesthesia, balance and agility (KBA) exercise program to improve symptoms among persons age > 50 years with knee osteoarthritis (OA). Forty-four persons were randomly assigned to 8-weeks, 3 times per week KBA, resistance training (RT), KBA + RT, or Control. KBA utilized walking agility exercises and single-leg static and dynamic balancing. RT used elastic resistance bands for open chain lower extremity exercises. KBA + RT performed selected exercises from each technique. Control applied inert lotion daily. Outcomes included the OA specific WOMAC Index of Pain, Stiffness, and Physical Function (PF), community activity level, exercise self-efficacy, self-report knee stability, and 15m get up & go walk (GUG). Thirty-three participants [70.7 (SD 8.5) years] completed the trial. Analysis of variance comparing baseline, mid-point, and follow-up measures revealed significant (p < 0.05) improvements in WOMAC scores among KBA, RT, KBA + RT, and Control, with no differences between groups. However, Control WOMAC improvements peaked at mid- point, whereas improvement in the exercise conditions continued at 8-weeks. There were no significant changes in community activity level. Only Control improved exercise self-efficacy. Knee stability was improved in RT and Control. GUG improved in RT and KBA+RT. These results indicate that KBA, RT, or a combination of the two administered as home exercise programs are effective in improving symptoms and quality of life among persons with knee OA. Control results indicate a strong placebo effect in the short term. A combination of KBA and RT should be considered as part of the rehabilitation program, but KBA or RT alone may be appropriate for some patients. Studies with more statistical power are needed to confirm or refute these results. Patient presentation, preferences, costs, and convenience should be considered when choosing an exercise rehabilitation approach for persons with knee OA.

The exercises are easy to learn, and the resistance training exercises can be done with body weight or inexpensive elastic bands.  I can teach you how to do the exercises and provide you with pictures and/or descriptions of each exercise to help you remember how to do them on your own. For just a few minutes a day, 3 days a week, participants in this study experienced significant improvement after only 8 weeks!

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