Knee arthritis will affect many older adults limiting their ability to participate in their daily, occupational, and recreational activities. Lost independence and function is one of the most common concerns among patients with knee arthritis who are treated in our Boulder Physical Therapy practice. In addition to manual therapy to the involved joints, exercise remains the gold standard of conservative treatment for this condition. Specifically strength training has been shown to both reduce knee pain and improve function and independence among older adults. New research suggests this form of exercise may also prevent progression of arthritis.
Chang and colleagues examined the association between hip abductor strength on both cartilage injury progression and patient function in patients with knee arthritis (Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 2019). They enrolled 275 knee in 164 patients with knee arthritis. All patients were given baseline strength and functional assessments, as well as, x rays of their knees. Authors reported patients who had greater hip abduction strength at baseline demonstrated reduced progression of their arthritis at 2 year follow up. In addition, these stronger individuals had a reduced risk of disability and an improved functional level at 5 year follow up. Authors reported these findings provide support for the important role of hip strengthening in modifying the disease progression of arthritis.