The aim of the systematic review by a team of Danish reviewers including Bente Danneskiold-Samsøe, professor at The Parker Institute in Frederiksberg, was to determine the effectiveness of one form of such treatment - aquatic exercise: Patients perform tasks, such as aerobic activities or stretching and strengthening and range of motion exercises, in water heated to about 90 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Cochrane reviewers analysed six trials that had 800 participants who all were living with osteoarthritis. Four studies included patients with osteoarthritis of either the knee or hip, one study followed patients with only hip arthritis and one included patients with only knee arthritis. In the studies, some patients did aquatic exercises for different lengths of time and numbers of sessions per week, while other patients did no exercise or exercised on land. Most of the studies measured patients after three months of therapy.

Based on the studies’ results, the reviewers said that in people with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, pain may decrease by one more point on a scale of zero to 20 with aquatic exercise, and function may improve by three more points on a scale of zero to 68. “There is gold-level evidence that for osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, aquatic exercise probably slightly reduces pain and slightly improves function over three months,” the reviewers wrote. “Based on this, one may consider using aquatic exercise as the first part of a longer exercise program for osteoarthritis patients.”

Because this condition is a degenerative process, no conservative treatment will ever give complete long-term results, the scientists stress. “However, aquatic exercise will absolutely prolong the need for surgical intervention and, in some cases, can delay the need for surgery for years,” the researchers write.

MEDICA.de; Source: Health Behavior News Service