Objective: To determine if clinical guidelines recommending therapeutic exercise for people with hip osteoarthritis (OA) are supported by rigorous scientific evidence.
Methods: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) recruiting people with hip OA and comparing some form of land-based exercise program (as opposed to exercises conducted in the water) with a non-exercise group in terms of hip pain and/or self-reported physical function.
Results: Thirty-two RCTs were identified, but only five met the inclusion criteria. Only one of the five included RCTs restricted recruitment to people with hip OA, the other four RCTs also recruiting participants with knee OA. The five included studies provided data on 204 and 187 hip OA participants for pain and physical function, respectively. Combining the results of the five included RCTs using a fixed-effects model demonstrated a small treatment effect for pain (standardized mean difference (SMD) -0.38; 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.67 to -0.09). No significant benefit in terms of improved self-reported physical function was detected (SMD -0.02; 95% CI -0.31 to 0.28).
Conclusion: Currently there is only silver level evidence (one small RCT) supporting the benefit of land-based therapeutic exercise for people with symptomatic hip OA in terms of reduced pain and improved physical function. The limited number and small sample size of the included RCTs restricts the confidence that can be attributed to these results.
Crown Copyright 2010. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.