Have you ever been told to take it easy and rest your knees, or limit exercise because if it will accelerate your arthritis? This is a common misbelief that can result in reduced physical activity, that has negative effects on function, quality of life, and systemic health.
Two recent systematic reviews by Bricca et al 2018 and 2019 examined the effect of therapeutic exercise programs on cartilage health and inflammation in people at risk of, or with established, knee osteoarthritis. They found that exercise 1-5 x weekly over periods of 4-48 weeks, in a combined study population of 1816 people, had no negative effects on MRI markers of cartilage health such as cartilage thickness and volume, cartilage defects, and composition (collagen and glycosaminoglycans).
They also found that biomarkers related to inflammation (C-reactive protein and IL-6) and cartilage degeneration such as extracellular matrix turnover did not increase. In fact, analyses of 9 biomarkers showed that exercise therapy was associated with small reductions, indicating a positive effect on cartilage health and inflammation.
Exercise regimes varied from hydrotherapy, aerobic exercise, strength training, or a combination. A number of participants had some expected pain flare ups when starting their new regime, however most subsided during the exercise period.
Work with your physio to come up with an exercise regime that works for you!
Bricca A, Juhl CB, Steultjens M, et al (2019). Impact of exercise on articular cartilage in people at risk of, or with established, knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Br J Sports Med;53:940–7. 8
Bricca A, Struglics A, Larsson S, et al (2018). Impact of exercise therapy on molecular biomarkers related to cartilage and inflammation in people at risk of, or with established, knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arthritis Care Res, doi:10.1002/acr.23786.
For more information on what we do at The Injury Clinic, please click HERE
For more information on Physiotherapy at The Injury Clinic, please click HERE
To book a consult online, please click HERE