Study reveals specific exercises can help reduce knee osteoarthritis pain

A couple in the countryside walking and looking at scenery.

The study took place at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong, found that a combination of joint mobilisation and exercise significantly decreased pain for people with knee osteoarthritis.

The mobilisation is relatively simple. Patients were instructed to lie on their side, with the knee supported and slightly flexed. This allowed the patella, or kneecap, to glide vertically from side to side. This mobilisation was performed over a course of three sessions once every two months.

Patients were also instructed to perform certain exercises twice a day in order to encourage the muscle to keep firing. After 24 weeks, the patients scored their pain levels by using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) pain score to self-assess their pain.

The patients that had undergone the mobilisation and exercise scored significantly lower on the WOMAC scale than a control group of patients who hadn’t undergone the treatment, indicating that they were experiencing much less pain.

The beauty of mobilisation treatments is that they can be simple for doctors and physiotherapists to learn and administer. Although the research is at early stage, it was encouraging that patient were willing and able to follow the treatment regime, meaning this may be a treatment option people would find easy to adopt.

More studies will need to be done to show the full potential of this type of treatment and how long the effects on pain may last for.

Dr Devi Rani Sagar, research liaison manager at Versus Arthritis said:

“Knee osteoarthritis affects over 4.7 million people across the UK. The condition can have a huge impact on a person’s life, often making many everyday activities we take for granted, such as walking, climbing stairs or even sleeping, unbearable.

Despite its high prevalence, knee osteoarthritis is not well understood, meaning it can be harder to identify effective treatments. Testing new treatment approaches is essential if we are going to improve the quality of life for millions of people with arthritis.

However, we also need to focus on prevention and early intervention. We need arthritis, including knee osteoarthritis, to be taken seriously and recognised as a priority.”