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Patients with hip arthritis benefit from exercises on land & in water



An updated review of the topic is needed


Hip osteoarthritis is a condition in which cartilage that normally protects the bones in the hip gradually wears away. When this happens, these bones eventually start rubbing against one another, which causes pain and makes it difficult to move the hip normally. Many patients with hip osteoarthritis are therefore unable to function normally, and this can prevent them from doing their jobs and completing other important tasks. It is recommended that these patients are first treated with exercise and manual therapy, which is a type of hands-on treatment performed by physical therapists. Although these treatments are commonly prescribed, there is not much research on how effective they are. Some studies have been performed on the topic, but there is a need for an updated review on all the literature these treatments for hip osteoarthritis. For this reason, a powerful study called a systematic review was performed to identify all the best medical literature on this topic. It was followed by a meta-analysis, which analyzes all the data found in the systematic review in detail with the intention of identifying trends.



Six medical databases are searched for relevant studies


In order to conduct the systematic review and meta-analysis, six major medical databases were searched. Researchers were looking for studies on the use of exercise therapy and manual therapy to treat hip osteoarthritis. They only accepted randomized-controlled trials (RCTs), which are the highest quality individual studies. This search led to 68 studies being evaluated, but only 19 RCTs were accepted. The 19 RCTs were then analyzed to determine how effective exercise therapy and manual therapy are for patients with hip osteoarthritis.



Exercise therapy helpful for hip osteoarthritis patients in the short term


The meta-analysis found that exercise therapy decreased pain in patients with hip osteoarthritis in the short term for up to three months. This was found to be the case for both land-based exercise and aquatic exercise performed underwater, which is meant to provide more pain relief because there is less weight on the joints. Most of the exercise programs also included education, which helps patients understand their condition and instructs them on other ways to improve. Unfortunately, there were not enough studies on manual therapy for researchers to come to a conclusion on how effective it was. Based on the findings of this meta-analysis, it appears that exercise therapy performed either on land or in water can be beneficial for patients with hip osteoarthritis for at least three months. The use of aquatic exercise may be even more helpful since it puts minimal stress on joints. Patients with hip osteoarthritis should, therefore, see their physical therapist for a specific exercise program to reduce their pain and help them function better.



-As reported in the November '15 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine
March 30, 2017