Exercise prescription including type of exercise, reps, sets, frequency, and intensity varies between each patient with knee pain. Many factors influence this prescription including knee diagnosis (arthritis vs. patellofemoral pain), patient function and symptoms, as well as, the available medical evidence supporting the use of exercise to both reduce pain and improve function. A recent review of the evidence published guidelines on the most effective dosing parameters for different knee diagnoses.
Young and colleagues in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy reviewed 45 articles on the impact of Physical Therapy exercise on patient's with knee pain (2018). For patients with knee arthritis, 24 exercise sessions over a duration of 8-12 weeks were most often associated with large changes in pain and disability levels. Performing an exercise session once a week was associated with no effect. Conversely, consistent with previous research, strengthening 2-3 days a week may provide an optimal dosing response. There were no consistent dosing recommendations for other knee disorders including patellar tendinopathy and patellofemoral pain syndrome. Exercise prescription for these conditions should be based on an accurate history and clinical examination.