Most of what we know about the use of exercise as a component of osteoarthritis treatment is based on studies of the knee.
Researchers from Boston University in Massachusetts reviewed the evidence of its value in treating osteoarthritis of the hip.
First, the details.
9 studies of 1234 patients that involved an exercise group (strengthening and/or aerobic) vs a nonexercise control group were included.
A meta-analysis — combining and reanalysis of the data from the studies — was conducted.
The outcome was pain relief in hip osteoarthritis.
The researchers contacted the authors of 7 studies where knee and hip data were combined to single out the hip results.
And, the results.
Combining the results form all studies, there was a significant benefit with exercise compared to the control group.
Removing 1 study that differed in how it was conducted made the statistical significance greater for exercise.
Specialized hands-on exercise training, which included at least some muscle strengthening, resulted in significant benefit for the patients.
The bottom line?
Yes, combining the results from several small studies might not be as good as actually doing a study in a large number of patients. However, this strategy “provides insight into the effectiveness of exercise in treating hip osteoarthritis,” concluded the authors.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.