Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition that can significantly hinder a person’s ability to get around and negatively impacts their overall quality of life. Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in the US and the second most common disability in older adults.
When osteoarthritis impacts the knee, it’s especially limiting and can eventually prevent the affected individual from walking comfortably, climbing stairs or completing other daily tasks which are essential for leading a normal life.
Furthermore, when an individual suffers from osteoarthritis of the knee, it carries the estimated lifetime management cost of $140,300. Osteoarthritis of the knee is a debilitating and expensive condition. Fortunately, researchers and practitioners have found resistance training can reduce pain and function decline of affected knees.
Study finds improved proprioception after resistance exercises
Recently, a study published by the Journal of Performance Health compared two resistance band exercises – dynamic and isometric – in patients with knee osteoarthritis to see if there was an improvement or change in proprioception.
Measuring proprioception of the knee was of particular interest in this study because proprioception can be a reliable indicator of decline in overall knee health in osteoarthritis patients. Techniques to measure proprioception assessed the time in which a subject could detect passive movement and the ability to reposition the knee joint.
This is the first study that’s ever compared the difference in isometric and dynamic resistance training on knee proprioception in adults with knee osteoarthritis. Researchers compared changes in proprioception of the knee after 16 weeks of isometric and dynamic exercises.
Overall, both dynamic and isometric resistance band training were found to improve the proprioceptive functioning in subjects with knee osteoarthritis.
This is important information practitioners and physical therapists can use in their own practice. Let’s take a closer look at this study, what it tells us about physical therapy of knee osteoarthritis, and how we can extrapolate these findings into the real world.
What the study tells us about resistance training and knee osteoarthritis
This study compared three different groups of subjects with knee osteoarthritis. There were those who participated over 16 weeks in dynamic TheraBand band exercises, isometric TheraBand exercises and the control group.
The study found that the participants who used isometric exercises found a 36% improvement in the time it took for them to detect passive movement in the knee when compared to the control group. The dynamic group also experienced an improvement in the ability to detect passive movements but their score was not statistically significant.
Those who used dynamic exercises had a 19% improvement in their ability to passively reposition their knee when compared to the control group, while the isometric group saw a 15% improvement.
This could be good news for anyone with patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis. Educating your patients on different exercises that can help them reduce degradation of the knee may help slow progression and could allow for a better quality of life.
Using a TheraBand to improve compliance
This study also noted that the mobility of the TheraBand was an added benefit. The size of the TheraBand allowed patients take the bands with them and complete exercises nearly anywhere. The mobility of resistance band training could improve patient compliance.
Resistance training in people with knee osteoarthritis has shown to improve functional ability and proprioception. It’s theorized that strength training not only increases muscle activation, but also improves nervous system mechanisms – both of which are thought to contribute to improved functional ability.
Overall, this study reinforces the idea that exercise, especially resistance training, can improve indicators of knee function and resist declines caused by osteoarthritis such as joint function, muscle strength, and proprioception.
To check out the entire study on resistance exercises for knee osteoarthritis, you can read the full article now or see the whole Journal here. This article was based on a study originally published in the Journal of Performance Health. Research written by Robert Topp of Hahn School of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of San Diego and Matthew Pifer of The Spine and Orthopedic Center of Santa Barbara.