Mechanisms of action of therapeutic exercise for knee and hip OA remain a black box phenomenon: An individual patient data mediation study with the OA Trial Bank

The STEER OA Patient Advisory Group, The OA Trial Bank Exercise Collaborative

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives To evaluate mediating factors for the effect of therapeutic exercise on pain and physical function in people with knee/hip osteoarthritis (OA). Methods For Subgrouping and TargetEd Exercise pRogrammes for knee and hip OsteoArthritis (STEER OA), individual participant data (IPD) were sought from all published randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing therapeutic exercise to non-exercise controls in people with knee/hip OA. Using the Counterfactual framework, the effect of the exercise intervention and the percentage mediated through each potential mediator (muscle strength, proprioception and range of motion (ROM)) for knee OA and muscle strength for hip OA were determined. Results Data from 12 of 31 RCTs of STEER OA (1407 participants) were available. Within the IPD data sets, there were generally statistically significant effects from therapeutic exercise for pain and physical function in comparison to non-exercise controls. Of all potential mediators, only the change in knee extension strength was statistically and significantly associated with the change in pain in knee OA (β -0.03 (95% CI -0.05 to -0.01), 2.3% mediated) and with physical function in knee OA (β -0.02 (95% CI -0.04 to -0.00), 2.0% mediated) and hip OA (β -0.03 (95% CI -0.07 to -0.00), no mediation). Conclusions This first IPD mediation analysis of this scale revealed that in people with knee OA, knee extension strength only mediated ±2% of the effect of therapeutic exercise on pain and physical function. ROM and proprioception did not mediate changes in outcomes, nor did knee extension strength in people with hip OA. As 98% of the effectiveness of therapeutic exercise compared with non-exercise controls remains unexplained, more needs to be done to understand the underlying mechanisms of actions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere003220
JournalRMD Open
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2023

Keywords

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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