Contrary to common belief, exercise does not harm knee cartilage in people with osteoarthritis, investigators have found. In fact, it may help maintain functioning cartilage.

In a review of 21 studies, therapeutic knee exercises in osteoarthritis patients were not found to harm the articular cartilage or increase knee joint inflammation. Alessio Bricca, Ph.D., who conducted the research at the University of Aberdeen, said exercise-induced pain flares are to be expected, but the discomfort will usually diminish and disappear in time.

Patients and clinicians should take note, he suggests. Physical activity and therapeutic exercise does more than improve function for people with knee osteoarthritis. It also helps prevent many of the chronic diseases common in people with the condition.

“Instead of rest and activity avoidance, people with knee osteoarthritis should be encouraged, reassured and supported to engage with exercise and physical activity, which is essential for good joint and general health,” he said.

Read more about the review