Osteoarthritis of the knee: why does exercise work? A qualitative study of the literature.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)Research


Purpose of the study
The effectiveness of exercise to reduce pain and improve functioning in osteoarthritis of the knee (OAk) is well substantiated. Underlying mechanisms are still under debate and better understanding of the pathways involved may contribute to more targeted treatment strategies. The present qualitative analysis of the literature aims to provide an overview of theoretical models that are put forward to explain the treatment effects of exercise in OAk.
An inductive qualitative approach, based on the 'grounded theory' of Glaser and Straus, was used. Studies emphasizing on exercise therapy for OAk, collected from three Cochrane reviews and nine guidelines of the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDRO) published between 2000 and 2012, were included. The introduction and discussion parts of these papers were screened for explanations of exercise-induced benefits in OAk patients. Results
Twenty-two studies were included and 73 key points were identified which were subdivided into 16 core theoretical concepts. Finally, 5 categories were formed: neuromuscular, peri-articular, intra-articular, and psychosocial components, and general fitness and health.
Future research on exercise in OAk should allow distinguishing the contribution of different potential pathways to the treatment effects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBelgische vereniging voor Kinesiologie
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2012


  • osteoarthritis, knee, exercise, aetiology, rationa

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