Combined programmes of flexibility, strengthening and aerobic exercise are most likely to relieve pain and improve function in patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis, according to a meta-analysis just published in the BMJ.
Researchers at the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre at Keele University used 60 trials – 44 on knee OA, two on hip and 14 mixed – covering 12 exercise interventions including 8218 patients.
The following were more effective than no exercise for pain relief:
– flexibility plus strengthening
– flexibility plus strengthening plus aerobic
– aquatic strengthening
– aquatic strengthening plus flexibility
A combined intervention of strengthening, flexibility, and aerobic exercise was also significantly more effective than no exercise control for improving limitation in function.