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Tailored Exercise Effective in the Management of Osteoarthritis

05 Jul Tailored Exercise Effective in the Management of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease, affecting at least eight million people in the UK. It can affect any joint, but it most commonly affects the knees, hips, neck, back, toes and fingers.

Previously considered a disease of the articular cartilage of a joint, more recent studies have highlighted the involvement of subchondral bone, synovium, menisci, ligaments, periarticular muscles and nerves in the disease process. Osteoarthritis is now viewed as a disease affecting the whole joint. The effects of disability resulting from Osteoarthritis can have major socio-economic impact on peoples’ lives.

The 2014 NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) Guidelines for Osteoarthritis advise exercise as a core treatment for the reduction of pain and improving joint mobility. Recommended exercise includes muscle strengthening and aerobic fitness for all people with Osteoarthritis irrespective of age, comorbidity, pain severity or disability.

A study in 2018 by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) included 21 trials involving 2,000 people, aged over 45, with hip and/or knee osteoarthritis and evaluated the effects of exercise on the physical and mental health on the participants.

The study concluded that patients with osteoarthritis who undertook exercise experienced a reduction in pain, improved self- belief in their own capabilities and improved social function. Studies have also shown that exercise has additional benefits; it can also boost emotional wellbeing and lead to greater self-reliance, reduced disability and helplessness.

It is a common misconception that pain during exercise means additional joint damage and people often avoid activity for fear of causing more harm. The 2018 study supports the fact that this is untrue and an unhelpful belief.

As Physiotherapists, we can challenge the beliefs that exercise causes harm by providing tailored rehabilitation programmes to individual preferences, abilities and needs. Specific exercises together with education about the causes of Osteoarthritis can provide reassurance that exercise is safe and beneficial.

To find out more about how tailored exercise can help you, please contact us here

Blog compiled by Laura Woods, Senior Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor at Halo


NICE. Osteoarthritis: care and management. CG177. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence; 2014.

NIHR DC. Moving forward – physiotherapy for musculoskeletal health and wellbeing. Themed review. Southampton: National Institute for Health Research Dissemination Centre; 2018.

Frontline issue 10- July’19

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