Objective: To determine if an increase in knee extensor strength mediates the effect of a 12-week knee extensor strength training program on pain and physical function improvement in people with knee osteoarthritis (OA). Design: Secondary analysis from a randomised controlled trial comparing the effects of a 12-week knee extensor strengthening exercise program to a control group with no intervention. Methods: Data from participants with complete data (n = 97) enrolled in a previous clinical trial were analysed. Baseline and 12-week follow-up assessments included peak isometric knee extensor strength, pain and physical function. Peak knee extensor strength (Nm/kg) was assessed on an isokinetic dynamometer and subscales of the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) Osteoarthritis Index were used to assess pain and physical function. Twelve-week change in pain and physical function were regressed separately, on 12-week change in knee extensor strength and group allocation. Covariates included baseline pain or physical function as appropriate, and baseline knee extensor strength, age, sex and knee alignment (stratification variable). Results: Improved knee extensor strength mediated the effect of the strengthening program on both pain relief (mediated effect size = 0.69, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 0.05–1.33, P = 0.03), and improved physical function (mediated effect size = 1.86, 95% CI 0.08–3.64, P = 0.04), at 12 weeks. Conclusions: Increased knee extensor strength partially mediates the effect of a knee extensor strength training program on pain and physical function improvement in people with knee OA.
- Knee osteoarthritis