Continuous care intervention with carbohydrate restriction improves physical function of the knees among patients with type 2 diabetes: a non-randomized study

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2022 Mar 29;23(1):297. doi: 10.1186/s12891-022-05258-0.


Background: In a previous study, we assessed a novel, remotely monitored carbohydrate restricted diet regimen including nutritional ketosis in patients with type 2 diabetes and reported significant improvements in weight, glycemic control, abdominal fat and inflammation from baseline to 2 years. Knee outcome measures were collected as a secondary outcome in the trial. This study aims to assess the effect of this intervention on knee functional scores and to identify if changes in weight, central abdominal fat (CAF), glycemic status and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were associated with its improvement.

Methods: This prospective analysis included continuous care intervention (CCI, n = 173) and usual care (UC, n = 69) trial participants with type 2 diabetes that reported knee pain at baseline. Knee outcome measures included the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) pain, symptoms, activities of daily living (ADL), sports and recreation function, and knee-related quality of life subscales, and total KOOS score were assessed from baseline to 2 years. Missing data at each time point were replaced with multiple imputation under the assumption of missing at random. To assess if the primary analysis of the knee scores changed under plausible missing not at random assumptions, sensitivity analysis was also performed using pattern mixture models. In CCI, we also assessed factors associated with the improvement of knee scores.

Results: In the primary analysis, CCI participants demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in total KOOS and all KOOS individual subscale scores at 1 year and maintained through 2 years as opposed to UC patients who showed no significant changes from baseline to 2 years. The significant improvement in total KOOS and its individual subscale scores from baseline to 2 years remained relatively stable in CCI in the sensitivity analysis under different missing not at random scenarios confirming the robustness of the findings from the primary analysis. Approximately 46% of the CCI participants met the 10 points minimal clinically important change at 2 years. A reduction in CAF was associated with improvement in total KOOS and KOOS ADL, while a decrease in hsCRP was associated with improvement in KOOS symptoms scores.

Conclusion: A very low carbohydrate intervention including nutritional ketosis resulted in significant improvements in knee pain and function among patients with T2D. The improvements in knee function were likely secondary to a reduction in central adiposity and inflammation. Future research on the applicability of this intervention in radiographically confirmed OA patients is important.

Trial registration: Clinical trial registration: NCT02519309 (10/08/2015).

Keywords: KOOS; Knee function; Osteoarthritis; Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Carbohydrates
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / therapy
  • Quality of Life


  • Carbohydrates

Associated data