Can aerobic exercise help ease the pain of arthritis? One University of Minnesota expert believes it’s a great first step, and might just help push off surgical intervention.

In new research published in today’s edition of Annals of Internal Medicine, Tatyana A. Shamliyan, M.D., a senior research associate in the School of Public Health’s Division of Health Policy and Management found evidence that suggests exercise – and not surgical intervention – may be best for reducing pain and improving function and disability for adults with osteoarthritis-associated knee pain.

What’s more, patients with high adherence to their exercise program had better outcomes, leading the researchers to conclude that therapeutic exercise programs should focus on achieving higher adherence rather than increasing the amount or intensity of exercise.

“For people with osteoarthritis, exercise can increase knee pain, at least short-term, and that can be a big deterrent,” Shamliyan told WebMD. “That is why it is so important to start under the supervision of a physical therapist.”

To arrive at their conclusions, Shamliyan and her colleagues conducted a literature review of 193 published randomized, controlled trials on physical therapy interventions for community-dwelling adults with knee osteoarthritis.  In addition to aerobic exercise, researchers found other types of treatment such as ultrasonography could also provide benefits to patients.

Read more