Physical Exercise for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis

Physical Exercise for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common musculoskeletal pathology in the world. In Spain, it affects more than 7 million people, with osteoarthritis of the knee or gonarthrosis as one of the most frequent locations.

Dr. Raquel Almodóvar is a rheumatologist at the Hospital Universitario Fundación Alcorcón and one of the coordinators of the Reumafit project, carried out by the Spanish Society of Rheumatology (SER), with the collaboration of the biopharmaceutical company MSD. She points out that "the prevalence in our country is 10.2% (14% women and 5.7% men), it should be taken into account that the knee is a load-bearing joint that supports weight when doing basic activities such as walking, going up and down stairs or sitting down".

There is no clear scientific evidence that physical activity or sport in itself conditions the onset of osteoarthritis. It is true, however, that the "overuse" of joints by elite athletes, in some cases due to alterations in alignment, previous injuries or other types of disorders, can lead to joint deterioration and the appearance of osteoarthritis at an early age.

In this sense, Dr. Almodóvar insists that "at a scientific level it has not been demonstrated that sport is a trigger for the appearance of osteoarthritis; on the contrary, high-quality scientific evidence has shown that physical exercise is universally recommended as first-line treatment in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, since it does not deteriorate the cartilage or increase inflammation, but rather has a protective effect".

For sport to be one of the safest treatments, it must be carried out in a controlled and correct manner, thus improving pain and reducing limitations in daily activities.

"Obesity and other components of the metabolic syndrome, such as arterial hypertension and diabetes, are risk factors or comorbidities associated with osteoarthritis. Likewise, an increase in mortality, mainly from cardiovascular causes, has been seen in people with osteoarthritis. Therefore, the practice of physical exercise is a great ally for these patients," insists Dr. Almodóvar.