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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1998 Nov;79(11):1421-7.

The effects of a physical training program on patients with osteoarthritis of the knees.

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  • 1Department of Rheumatology, Copenhagen Municipal Hospital, Denmark.



To investigate physical function in patients with severe osteoarthritis (OA) of the knees during and after a general physical training program.


Randomized control trial, blinded observer, follow-up at 3 months and 1 year.


Outpatient clinic.


Consecutive sample of 25 patients (3 men, 22 women) with OA of the knees according to the criteria of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). Two patients (8%) failed to complete the study. There were no withdrawals for adverse effects.


Twelve patients received training in groups of 6, twice a week for 3 months. Training focused on general fitness, balance, coordination, stretching, and lower extremity muscle strength, and included a daily home exercise program.


Muscle strength across the knee (extension and flexion), Algofunctional Index (AFI), pain (0 to 10 point scale), walking speed, clinical findings.


Patients participated in 96 of 96 assessments (100%) and in 218 of 280 training sessions (77.9%). From baseline to 3 months, isokinetic quadriceps strength (30 degrees/sec) improved 20% (confidence interval [CI] 2alpha = .05, 8% to 50%) in the least affected leg; isometric strength improved 21%. By 1 year, AFI had decreased 3.8 points (CI2alpha = .05, 1.0 to 7.0), pain had decreased 2.0 points (CI2alpha = 05, 0.0 to 4.0), and walking speed had increased 13% (CI2alpha = .05, 4% to 23%). There was an increase in the frequency of palpable joint effusions (p < .01) on the most affected side. Frequency of crepitus decreased on the least affected side (p < .01).


General physical training appears to be beneficial to patients with OA of the knee. As shown by the high compliance and low dropout frequency, such a program is feasible even in patients with severe OA of the knee.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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