Introduction: Recent guidelines pertaining to exercise for individuals with osteoarthritis have been released. These guidelines have been based primarily on studies of knee-joint osteoarthritis. The current study was focused on the hip joint, which has different biomechanical features and risk factors for osteoarthritis and has received much less attention in the literature. The purpose was to conduct a systematic review of the literature to evaluate the exercise programs used in intervention studies focused solely on hip-joint osteoarthritis, to decide whether their exercise regimens met the new guidelines, and to determine the level of support for exercise-therapy interventions in the management of hip-joint osteoarthritis.
Methods: A systematic literature search of 14 electronic databases was undertaken to identify interventions that used exercise therapy as a treatment modality for hip osteoarthritis. The quality of each article was critically appraised and graded according to standardized methodologic approaches. A 'pattern-of-evidence' approach was used to determine the overall level of evidence in support of exercise-therapy interventions for treating hip osteoarthritis.
Results: More than 4,000 articles were identified, of which 338 were considered suitable for abstract review. Of these, only 6 intervention studies met the inclusion criteria. Few well-designed studies specifically investigated the use of exercise-therapy management on hip-joint osteoarthritis. Insufficient evidence was found to suggest that exercise therapy can be an effective short-term management approach for reducing pain levels, improving joint function and the quality of life.
Conclusions: Limited information was available on which conclusions regarding the efficacy of exercise could be clearly based. No studies met the level of exercise recommended for individuals with osteoarthritis. High-quality trials are needed, and further consideration should be given to establishing the optimal exercises and exposure levels necessary for achieving long-term gains in the management of osteoarthritis of the hip.