A 6-week hip muscle strengthening and lumbopelvic-hip core stabilization program to improve pain, function, and quality of life in persons with patellofemoral osteoarthritis: a feasibility pilot study

Pilot Feasibility Stud. 2018 Apr 6:4:70. doi: 10.1186/s40814-018-0262-z. eCollection 2018.


Background: Patellofemoral joint (PFJ) osteoarthritis (OA) is prevalent in middle-aged and older adults. Despite this, there are minimal studies which have examined conservative interventions for PFJ OA. Weakness of proximal lower extremity muscles is associated with PFJ OA. It is unknown if a hip muscle strengthening and lumbopelvic-hip core stabilization program will improve symptoms and function in persons with PFJ OA. This study examined the feasibility and impact of a 6-week hip muscle strengthening and core stabilization program on pain, symptoms, physical performance, peak muscle torques, and quality of life in persons with PFJ OA.

Methods: Ten females with PFJ OA and ten age- and sex-matched controls participated in baseline tests. PFJ OA participants attended ten twice-a-week hip strengthening and core stabilization exercise sessions. Outcome measures included questionnaires, the Timed-Up-and-Go, and peak isometric torque of hip and quadriceps muscles. Data were tested for normality; parametric and non-parametric tests were used as appropriate.

Results: At baseline, the PFJ OA group had significantly worse symptoms, slower Timed-Up-and-Go performance, and lower muscle torques than control participants. PFJ OA group adherence to supervised exercise sessions was adequate. All PFJ OA participants attended at least nine exercise sessions. Five PFJ OA participants returned 6-month follow-up questionnaires, which was considered fair retention. The PFJ OA participants' self-reported pain, symptoms, function in daily living, function in sport, and quality of life all improved at 6 weeks (P < 0.05). Timed-Up-and-Go time score improved at 6 weeks (P = 0.005). Peak hip external rotator torque increased (P = 0.01). Improvements in pain and self-reported function were no longer significant 6 months following completion of the intervention.

Conclusions: PFJ OA participants were adherent to the supervised sessions of the intervention. Improvement in symptoms, physical performance, and muscle torque were found after 6 weeks. Participant retention at 6 months was fair, and significant changes were no longer present. Our findings suggest that a hip strengthening and core stabilization program may be beneficial to improve symptoms, function, and physical performance in persons with PFJ OA. Future studies are needed, and additional measures should be taken to improve long-term adherence to exercise.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02825238. Registered 6 July 2016 (retrospectively registered).

Keywords: Exercise; Knee osteoarthritis; Patellofemoral joint; Patellofemoral osteoarthritis; Treatment.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02825238