Exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee.Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015; 1:CD004376CD
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a major public health issue because it causes chronic pain, reduces physical function and diminishes quality of life. Ageing of the population and increased global prevalence of obesity are anticipated to dramatically increase the prevalence of knee OA and its associated impairments. No cure for knee OA is known, but exercise therapy is among the dominant non-pharmacological interventions recommended by international guidelines.
To determine whether land-based therapeutic exercise is beneficial for people with knee OA in terms of reduced joint pain or improved physical function and quality of life.
Five electronic databases were searched, up until May 2013.
All randomised controlled trials (RCTs) randomly assigning individuals and comparing groups treated with some form of land-based therapeutic exercise (as opposed to exercise conducted in the water) with a non-exercise group or a non-treatment control group.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
Three teams of two review authors independently extracted data, assessed risk of bias for each study and assessed the quality of the body of evidence for each outcome using the GRADE (Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation) approach. We conducted analyses on continuous outcomes (pain, physical function and quality of life) immediately after treatment and on dichotomous outcomes (proportion of study withdrawals) at the end of the study; we also conducted analyses on the sustained effects of exercise on pain and function (two to six months, and longer than six months).
In total, we extracted data from 54 studies. Overall, 19 (20%) studies reported adequate random sequence generation and allocation concealment and adequately accounted for incomplete outcome data; we considered these studies to have an overall low risk of bias. Studies were largely free from selection bias, but research results may be vulnerable to performance and detection bias, as only four of the RCTs reported blinding of participants to treatment allocation, and, although most RCTs reported blinded outcome assessment, pain, physical function and quality of life were participant self-reported.High-quality evidence from 44 trials (3537 participants) indicates that exercise reduced pain (standardised mean difference (SMD) -0.49, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.39 to -0.59) immediately after treatment. Pain was estimated at 44 points on a 0 to 100-point scale (0 indicated no pain) in the control group; exercise reduced pain by an equivalent of 12 points (95% CI 10 to 15 points). Moderate-quality evidence from 44 trials (3913 participants) showed that exercise improved physical function (SMD -0.52, 95% CI -0.39 to -0.64) immediately after treatment. Physical function was estimated at 38 points on a 0 to 100-point scale (0 indicated no loss of physical function) in the control group; exercise improved physical function by an equivalent of 10 points (95% CI 8 to 13 points). High-quality evidence from 13 studies (1073 participants) revealed that exercise improved quality of life (SMD 0.28, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.40) immediately after treatment. Quality of life was estimated at 43 points on a 0 to 100-point scale (100 indicated best quality of life) in the control group; exercise improved quality of life by an equivalent of 4 points (95% CI 2 to 5 points).High-quality evidence from 45 studies (4607 participants) showed a comparable likelihood of withdrawal from exercise allocation (event rate 14%) compared with the control group (event rate 15%), and this difference was not significant: odds ratio (OR) 0.93 (95% CI 0.75 to 1.15). Eight studies reported adverse events, all of which were related to increased knee or low back pain attributed to the exercise intervention provided. No study reported a serious adverse event.In addition, 12 included studies provided two to six-month post-treatment sustainability data on 1468 participants for knee pain and on 1279 (10 studies) participants for physical function. These studies indicated sustainability of treatment effect for pain (SMD -0.24, 95% CI -0.35 to -0.14), with an equivalent reduction of 6 (3 to 9) points on 0 to 100-point scale, and of physical function (SMD -0.15 95% CI -0.26 to -0.04), with an equivalent improvement of 3 (1 to 5) points on 0 to 100-point scale.Marked variability was noted across included studies among participants recruited, symptom duration, exercise interventions assessed and important aspects of study methodology. Individually delivered programmes tended to result in greater reductions in pain and improvements in physical function, compared to class-based exercise programmes or home-based programmes; however between-study heterogeneity was marked within the individually provided treatment delivery subgroup.