the most common form of arthritis, involves the degeneration
of cartilage within the joints. It is essentially due to "wear
and tear" and may eventually eliminate the cartilage buffer
between bones, causing them to rub together. Patients with
osteoarthritis of the hip or knee are often instructed to
perform regular exercise to reduce the pain and disability
of the condition. The long-term effects of an exercise program
on reducing arthritis symptoms are unclear, however.
A recent study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases
evaluated the effects of an exercise program on hip- and
knee-osteoarthritis patients after three months of ongoing
exercise therapy, and three and six months after conclusion
of therapy. The 200 patients were divided into two groups.
Both groups were administered education and drug treatment,
but only one group completed 12 weeks of therapist-supervised
strength, mobility, and coordination exercises, one-to-three
times per week. Patients in both groups rated their pain weekly.
The exercise group showed decreased pain compared to the
nonexercise group during the training period, as expected.
However, the maximum beneficial reduction in pain in the exercise
group occurred at the end of the exercise program, and declined
steadily over the remaining six months of the study. Three
months after discontinuing exercise, the exercise group still
showed only a "small to moderate" reduction in pain; six months
later, both groups showed similar pain levels.
These results are similar to those of other studies on the
residual effects of exercise on osteoarthritis. If you have
osteoarthritis of the hip or knees, maintaining a consistent
exercise pattern can reduce your pain. A half-hour of aerobic
exercise, three days per week, appears to generate the largest
decreases in pain. Go to http://www.chiroweb.com/tyh/sports.html
for more information about the benefits of sports and
Van Baar ME, Dekker J, Oostendorp RAB, et al. Effectiveness
of exercise in patients with osteoarthritis of hip or knee:
Nine months' follow up. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases
2001:60, pp. 1123-1130.