Effects of Strengthening and Aerobic Exercises on Pain Severity and Function in Patients with Knee Rheumatoid Arthritis

Nader Rahnama, Vahid Mazloum


Background: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of two types of rehabilitation techniques, including aerobic and strengthening exercises on patients with knee rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: 48 male patients with knee RA were randomly assigned into 3 groups, including aerobic exercises, strengthening exercise, and control. The two first groups completed their treatment protocol for 8 weeks, 3 days per week. Visual Analogue Scale, WOMAC questionnaire, 6‑minute walking test, standard goniometer were used to assess pain severity, functional ability, walking ability, knee joint ROM respectively at baseline and after applying therapeutic interventions. The data were analyzed using one‑way analysis of variance (ANOVA) at P < 0.05 significant level.

Results: Participants had a mean ± SD age of 58.6 ± 7.8 years (height 1.72 ± 0.07 m, weight 81.0 ± 6.4 kg) with no significant difference between three groups. Both therapeutic interventions reduced pain significantly (P < 0.001) compared to the control group, without significant difference between the two experimental groups. The patients fulfilled aerobic exercise attained higher levels of function and walking ability compared to strengthening group significantly (P < 0.001).  The knee range of motion (ROM)wassignificantly (P < 0.001) improved in the two experimental groups in comparison to controls,  the strengthening group had more significant (P < 0.001) improvement.

Conclusions: It can be concluded that an aerobic exercise program improves functional and walking ability in patients with knee RA, and strengthening exercise has more efficient effect on knee ROM, both aerobic and strengthening exercises can equally relieve pain.

Full Text: