Benefits of exercise decline over time in osteoarthritis sufferers.




Ann Rheum Dis

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Consumer Data: Chondroitin Sulfate Glucosamine Arthritis, Osteo
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Nearly 50 percent of the population suffers from osteoarthritis by age 65.1 Osteoarthritis hits intensely on the hardest working joints: the knees, the hips, the hands, and fingers. The weight-bearing joints and the spine are especially vulnerable. It is a fundamental fact of life that as we age, our joints lose their youthful flexibility and range of motion. Movement eventually becomes difficult and painful as we slowly, year by year, become less supple and stiffer. Osteoarthritis is characterized by progressive, degenerative changes in cartilage structure. The proteoglycans break down, losing their ability to form tight clusters. The water content of cartilage increases. Chondroitin sulfate shortens in length. Cartilage loses the ability to repair itself and develops clefts and crevices that eventually extend down to the underlying bone. The end result is weak, stiff, and deformed joints.

Osteoarthritis can be classified into two major categories: Primary OA and Secondary OA. Primary OA lacks a specific cause such as trauma or disease. Secondary OA is caused by trauma or some known abnormality such as an infectious disease or endocrine disorder.

A recent study examined the long-term benefits of exercise in osteoarthritis patients. Of the 201 individuals that started the study, 183 completed it. Patients involved suffered from OA of the knee or hip. Follow up on the patients in the study was conducted at 6 and 9 months. The two intervention groups, the control group and the exercise group, received doctor's care, and drug therapy if necessary. The experimental group was also engaged in an exercise program for 12 weeks with a physiotherapist as a coordinator of the exercise therapy. The outcome measurements consisted of pain, drug use, and disability. A small to moderate decrease in pain was observed at the 24-week period, but at week 36, there was no difference in pain between the two groups. The researchers discovered that in OA sufferers, exercise benefits decline over time and eventually disappear.2


1. Fife RS. Epidemiology, pathology, and pathogenesis. In: Klippel JH, ed. Primer on Rheumatic Diseases, 11th ed. Atlanta, Arthritis Foundation. 1997:216-217.
2. van Baara ME, Dekkera J. Effectiveness of exercise in patients with osteoarthritis of hip or knee: nine months' follow up. Ann Rheum Dis. Dec 2001;60:1123-1130.