The effects of resistance exercise in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Clin Rehabil. 2016 Oct;30(10):947-959. doi: 10.1177/0269215515610039. Epub 2015 Oct 15.


Objective: To analyze the effectiveness of resistance exercise in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis on pain, stiffness, and physical function.

Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Data sources: PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the Web of Science, and Chinese Biomedical Literature Database were searched from the date of inception to August 2015.

Methods: Trials comparing effects of resistance exercise intervention with either non-intervention or psycho-educational intervention were selected by two reviewers independently. The risk of bias was assessed and studies with similar outcomes were pooled using a fixed or random effects model.

Results: Data from 17 randomized clinical trials including 1705 patients were integrated. The main source of methodological bias in the selected studies was lack of double blinding. The meta-analysis results suggested that resistance exercise training relieved pain (standard mean difference [SMD]: -0.43; 95% confidence interval [CI]: -0.57 to -0.29; P < 0.001), alleviated stiffness (SMD: -0.31; 95%: CI -0.56 to -0.05; P = 0.02), and improved physical function (SMD -0.53; 95% CI: -0.70 to -0.37; P < 0.001).

Conclusion: Resistance exercise is beneficial in terms of reducing pain, alleviating stiffness, and improving physical function in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

Keywords: Resistance exercise; knee osteoarthritis; meta-analysis; pain.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / rehabilitation*
  • Resistance Training*