The trial – significant findings
The Lifestyle Intervention for Knee Pain (LIKP) trial, led by Professor Ken Muir at the University of Nottingham and funded by a 5-year £500,000 grant from Arthritis Research UK, recruited 389 overweight and obese people with knee pain from GP surgeries in the local area.
They were randomised to one of four intervention or treatment groups:
- diet plus knee strengthening exercises
- diet only
- knee strengthening exercises
- an advice leaflet
Changes in knee pain, stiffness and physical function (i.e. the ability to perform everyday activities such as walking up and down stairs, getting in and out of the car and the bath, doing house work, etc) were assessed at 6, 12 and 24 months. Information about quality of life, levels of anxiety and depression were also gathered at these times.
When the trial ended in February 2007, 292 people had completed it.
After two years, those in the dietary group had lost an average of 7lb (3.2kg) although researchers found that losing weight did not appear to reduce knee pain. However, they had a significant improvement in physical function after 24 months, and had lower depression scores than those not in a dietary group.
Those in the knee-strengthening group found that their knee pain reduced significantly at 6, 12 and 24 months, as did knee stiffness, and physical function. In fact 45 per cent of people in the diet and exercise and exercise-only groups who complied highly with the knee exercise group found their knee pain reduced by at least 30 per cent.