The most common joint disease in humans and all vertebrate animals, osteoarthritis is a universal affliction: virtually everyone who lives past age 75 has it to some degree. Nearly 50 percent of the population suffers from osteoarthritis by age 65. Osteoarthritis is characterized by progressive, degenerative changes in cartilage structure. The proteoglycans break down, losing their ability to form tight clusters. The water content of cartilage increases. Chondroitin sulfate shortens in length. Cartilage loses the ability to repair itself and develops clefts and crevices that eventually extend down to the underlying bone. The end result is weak, stiff and deformed joints.
Exercise is physical activity that is planned or structured. It involves repetitive bodily movement done to improve or maintain physical fitness and overall health. Frequent and regular physical exercise boosts the immune system, and helps prevent diseases such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. It also improves mental health and helps prevent depression. Categories of physical exercise would be aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise, strength training and agility training. More and more research is suggesting that exercise is extremely important for your overall health and well-being.
A recent study assessed the effect of a simple group education program on pain and function through knowledge acquisition and a home-based exercise program for patients with osteoarthritis. The parallel randomized, single-blind trial included fifty patients aged 65 years or older with knee osteoarthritis. The 25 patients in the study group were given a group education program once a week for 4 weeks, followed by a self-executed home-based exercise program. The remaining 25 controls were given a brief course in short-wave diathermy treatment. The participants were assessed before the intervention, at 4 weeks and again at 8 weeks after the intervention. Researchers used the Western Ontario McMaster Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), the repeated sit-to-stand test and the get-up-and-go test to evaluate the patients’ results. The study revealed that at 4 weeks there was significant improvement in both groups in all outcome variables except the WOMAC stiffness score. However, it was found that at the 8 week follow-up, the study group demonstrated continued improvement in the get-up-and-go test and the WOMAC total, pain and disability scores, while no such improvements were noted in the control group. It appears that simple group education programs and home exercises may improve functional abilities and reduce pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis.1
1 Bezalel T, Carmeli E, Katz-Leurer M. The effect of a group education programme on pain and function through knowledge acquisition and home-based exercise among patients with knee osteoarthritis: a parallel randomised single-blind clinical trial. Physiotherapy. Jun2010;96(2):137-43.