Community-Based Exercise Alleviates Arthritis Pain

Pain and physical function improved by community-deliverable exercise programs

THURSDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Community-deliverable exercise improves pain and physical function in adults with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases (AORD), according to a meta-analysis published in the January issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

George A. Kelley, D.A., of West Virginia University in Morgantown, and colleagues analyzed data from 33 studies published between 1980 and 2008 representing 3,180 adults with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. Investigators analyzed per-protocol and intention-to-treat results, and calculated the minimally clinically important difference (MCID) and number needed to treat (NNT) for pain reduction and improvement of physical function.

The researchers note that community-deliverable exercise was associated with small but statistically significant improvements in both pain and physical function in both intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses. Pain reduction exceeded the MCID of 10 percent in the per-protocol results, and was 9 percent for the intention-to-treat analysis. NNT for pain reduction was nine. Improved physical function met or exceeded the MCID of 10 percent for both analyses, and the NNT was five.

"The results of the present meta-analysis suggest that community-deliverable exercise improves pain and physical function in adults with AORD (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia). These findings are important because they support the notion that exercise programs delivered in the community do not need to be disease-specific or tailored to a specific type of arthritis," the authors write.

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