Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

The effects of upper- vs. lower-body aerobic exercise on perceived pain in individuals with chronic knee pain: a randomised crossover trial

Deere, Rachel, Chowdhury, Enhad, Tabor, Abby, Thompson, Dylan and Bilzon, James L. J. 2023. The effects of upper- vs. lower-body aerobic exercise on perceived pain in individuals with chronic knee pain: a randomised crossover trial. Frontiers in Pain Research 4 , 1277482. 10.3389/fpain.2023.1277482

[thumbnail of fpain-04-1277482.pdf] PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (603kB)


Background and objectives: Some patients with chronic knee pain experience an increase in knee pain following a single bout of exercise involving their knee joint, which can negatively affect exercise adherence and thus result in reduced overall health and lack of disease management. We want to determine whether a single bout of upper-body (UB) aerobic arm-ergometry exercise is effective in reducing the experience of pain in those with chronic knee pain compared with lower-body (LB) aerobic leg ergometry exercise. Methods: A total of 19 individuals (women = 11, men = 8; age = 63 ± 8 years; body mass index = 24 ± 3 kg/m2) who suffered from chronic knee pain for ≥3 months took part in this study. Arm-ergometry and cycle-ergometry exercises were performed for 30 min at a moderate intensity, separated by 7 days. Pain intensity was assessed by means of a visual analogue scale (VAS) pre- and post-exercise and for 7 days post-exercise. Pressure pain threshold (PPT) and mechanical detection threshold (MDT) were measured pre- and post-exercise at both local and distal anatomical sites. Data are presented as mean ± SD. Results: VAS pain was significantly reduced (p = 0.035) at 1 day post-exercise following the UB exercise trial (−1.4 ± 0.8) when compared with the LB exercise trial (+0.1 ± 2.1). Both UB and LB exercises were effective in reducing local and distal PPT. MDT responses were heterogeneous, and no differences between the UB and LB exercise conditions were noted. Conclusion: An acute bout of upper-body aerobic arm-ergometry exercise evoked a significant decrease in the affected knee joint pain in individuals with chronic knee pain of up to 24 h/1 day post-exercise compared with lower-body aerobic exercise. While the exact mechanisms remain unclear, upper-body exercise may offer a viable, novel therapeutic treatment for patients with chronic knee pain.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Centre for Trials Research (CNTRR)
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Type: open-access
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 December 2023
Date of Acceptance: 20 November 2023
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2023 10:15

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics