Unsupervised Yoga Improves Short-Term Function in Knee Osteoarthritis

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An unsupervised online yoga program plus online education modestly improves physical function, but not knee pain during walking.

HealthDay News — An unsupervised online yoga program plus online education modestly improves physical function, but not knee pain during walking, at 12 weeks compared with online education alone among people with knee osteoarthritis, according to a study published online Sept. 20 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Kim L. Bennell, Ph.D., from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues examined the effectiveness of an unsupervised 12-week online yoga program in a randomized clinical trial involving 212 adults with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. Both groups received online osteoarthritis information, and the yoga group also received access to an unsupervised yoga program delivered via prerecorded videos. Changes in knee pain during walking and physical function at 12 weeks and 24 weeks were the primary outcomes.

Overall, 195 and 189 participants (92 and 89 percent, respectively) provided 12- and 24-week primary outcomes, respectively. The researchers found that yoga improved function compared with control at 12 weeks (between-group mean difference in change, −4.0), but no change was seen in knee pain during walking. For both outcomes, more yoga participants than control participants achieved the minimal clinically important difference. Knee stiffness, quality of life, and arthritis self-efficacy improved more with yoga than control at 12 weeks. At 24 weeks, the benefits were not maintained. Minor adverse events were observed.

“An unsupervised 12-week online yoga program for people with knee osteoarthritis improved function more than online education immediately after the program, although the improvement did not meet the minimal clinically important difference and was not sustained at 24 weeks,” the authors write.

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