How is exercise beneficial in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA)?

Updated: Oct 12, 2020
  • Author: Carlos J Lozada, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Although people with osteoarthritis tend to avoid activity, exercise is an effective treatment for this condition, producing improvements in pain, physical function, and walking distance. Long-term walking and resistance-training programs have been shown to slow the functional decline seen in many patients with osteoarthritis, including older patients. [117]

In a systematic review and meta-analysis of 48 randomized controlled trials, Juhl and colleagues found that the optimal exercise program for reducing pain and patient-reported disability in knee osteoarthritis should have a single aim, which can be improving aerobic capacity, strengthening the quadriceps muscle, or improving lower extremity performance. For best results, the exercise program should be supervised and performed 3 times weekly. [121]

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