Current Pain and Headache Reports

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 423–430 | Cite as

Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Knee Osteoarthritis

  • Stephan Esser
  • Allison BaileyEmail author
Pain Aspects of Arthritis (Allison Bailey, Section Editor)


Exercise is one of the most discussed and controversial nonpharmacologic management strategies for osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. Health care providers and patients share varied and often pseudoscientific beliefs regarding the effects of exercise on knee OA formulated on outdated notions of the etiology, pathophysiology, and progression of the condition. Based on the contemporary literature, regular light to moderate physical activity has both preventive and therapeutic benefits for individuals with knee OA. Exercise regimens with strong evidence of benefit include those that focus on aerobic/cardiovascular conditioning and lower extremity strength training. Health care providers should confidently incorporate exercise recommendations into clinical management and offer patients evidence-based and individually tailored exercise prescriptions to help manage the painful and often disabling symptoms of this condition.


Pain Arthritis Knee osteoarthritis Exercise Physical activity Quadriceps strength Weight management Weight loss Diet Traumatic injury Cycling Aerobics Cardiovascular exercise Therapy 



No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard Medical School, Department of Physical Medicine & RehabilitationSpaulding Rehabilitation HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Medical School, Department of Physical Medicine & RehabilitationSpaulding Medford Rehabilitation CenterMedfordUSA

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