Strong Muscles Better for Function in OA

Knee osteoarthritis limited physical ability less when people had good muscle strength

(RxWiki News) Osteoarthritis of the knee can get in the way of physical activity. For people with this condition, strong muscles may be the key to maintaining strong physical function.

In a recent study, people with severe knee osteoarthritis had more trouble on a test of physical ability when they had poor muscle strength in their legs. Their performance on the test was not influenced by pain, age or body weight.

The authors said that muscle strengthening treatments may help people with severe osteoarthritis of the knee.

"Ask a rheumatologist what exercises are right for you."

The study, led by Se-Woong Chun, MD, of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital in Korea, wanted to know what factors affected physical ability for people with knee osteoarthritis.

The researchers interviewed and tested 553 people who were over age 65. Participants were asked about knee pain, depression symptoms and other health problems.

The researchers measured body weight of each participant. They also did a scan of the knee to categorize how severe the osteoarthritis was.

Each participant did a test of muscle strength in which they tried lifting a weight with their arthritic leg.

All participants also did a physical performance test that consisted of balance tests while standing, standing after sitting in chair and a four minute walk.

For people with mild to moderate osteoarthritis, muscle strength, level of knee pain, body weight, and age were related to how well they did on the physical performance test. People with more strength, less pain, lower body weight and who were younger performed better on the physical performance test.

For people with severe osteoarthritis, muscle strength was the only factor related to physical performance. People with less muscle strength had more trouble performing the tasks in the physical test.

The authors concluded that muscle strength was related to physical performance in older adults with knee osteoarthritis. They said that, “Muscle strengthening in severe osteoarthritis patients should be emphasized as a targeted treatment program.”

The study was published in the March-April issue of Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. The study was funded by the Independent Research Grant from Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals and Korean government grants for Developing Seongnam Health Promotion Program for the Elderly.

The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
January 29, 2013