The following is a summary of the “Changes in physical activity and the association between pain and physical activity – a longitudinal analysis of 17,454 patients with knee or hip osteoarthritis from the GLA:D® registry,” published in the February 2023 issue of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage by Baumbach, et al.

Focusing on individuals with low pre-program activity levels, this study will examine how patients with knee/hip osteoarthritis respond to an 8-week education and exercise therapy programme. Additionally, to assess relationships between shifts in pain and motion. Baseline, post-program, and 12-month data from the Good Life with osteoArthritis in Denmark (GLA:D®) registry were analysed. The UCLA activity scale (1-10) and the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) for pain severity were the primary outcome measures of interest (0–100 mm). The 3 points in time were studied to determine whether or not there were shifts in physical activity levels (low 1- 4, moderate 5- 6, and high 6-10). 

Clinically meaningful improvement in pain (≥15 mm) during a 12-month period was compared to 12-month improvement in physical activity using asymmetric fixed effects regression models. In the end, 69% of all patients (n = 17,454), including 37% of those who were inactive at baseline (n = 4,836), increased to at least moderate levels of physical activity. Pain relief (β=1.44, P<0.001) and worsening (β=1.18, P<0.001) were both related with higher levels of physical activity in previously sedentary individuals. 

The researchers also found a similar pattern when looking at all patients ( β=0.51; P<0.001 and β= 0.11; P = 0.215). Patients with low activity levels with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip who participated in an education and exercise therapy programme increased their activity levels to at least a moderate level and kept it up for a year. The reduction in discomfort was not necessary for the increase in physical activity.