Aquatic Physical Therapy for Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis: Results of a Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial

Rana S Hinman, Sophie E Heywood and Anthony R Day

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of aquatic physical therapy on hip or knee OA. The study was designed as a randomized controlled trial in which 71 participants randomly received 6 weeks of aquatic physical therapy or no aquatic physical therapy. Outcome measures included pain, physical function, physical activity levels, quality of life, and muscle strength. The intervention resulted in less pain and joint stiffness and greater physical function, quality of life, and hip muscle strength. Totals of 72% and 75% of participants reported improvements in pain and function, respectively, compared with only 17% (each) of control participants. Benefits were maintained 6 weeks after the completion of physical therapy, with 84% of participants continuing independently. The authors conclude that compared with no intervention, a 6-week program of aquatic physical therapy resulted in significantly less pain and improved physical function, strength, and quality of life. It is unclear whether the benefits were attributable to intervention effects or a placebo response.

Physical Therapy, Vol. 87, No. 1, January 2007, pp. 32-43

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