Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an exercise program conducted as part of community health services to improve pain and physical function in elderly people with osteoarthritis of the knee (knee OA). METHODS; The subjects were 88 (12 males aged 77.8 +/- 5.4 years and 76 females aged 73.2 +/- 5.3 years) community-dwelling independent elderly people with knee OA who participated voluntarily in exercise classes sponsored by Musashino city of Tokyo. They were allocated randomly to the intervention group (n = 44) and the control group (n = 44). For the intervention group, exercise classes of 90 min duration were held 8 times over 3 months. The exercise program comprised flexibility exercises (stretching of knee and ankle joints), resistance exercises (strengthening of quadriceps, extension and flexion of the knee joint with an elastic band), and movement exercises (turning over, getting up, standing up). The subjects were instructed to perform these exercises at home every day. Knee pain scores (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities OA Index; WOMAC), peak torque of joint during knee flexion and extension, range of motion (ROM) of the knee joint, and functional fitness (standing and walking ability) were evaluated before and after the intervention period.
Results: Significant inter-group differences were observed for peak torque during knee flexion and standing and walking ability of females. Assessment of interactions between time and group by repeated measure ANOVA adjusted for age and sex revealed significance differences for the WOMAC score (P = 0.031), the peak torque during knee extension (P = 0.016) and knee flexion (P = 0.000), ROM (P = 0.037), standing ability (P = 0.000)and walking ability (P = 0.000). The effect of the intervention was 0.44 for WOMAC score, 0.23 for peak torque during knee extension, 0.64 for knee flexion, 0.32 for ROM, 0.81 for standing ability, and 1.13 for walking ability.
Conclusions: These results suggested that the exercise program for elderly people with knee OA improved knee pain and physical function.