Physical activity for osteoarthritis management: A randomized controlled clinical trial evaluating hydrotherapy or Tai Chi classes

Marlene Fransen, Lillias Nairn, Julie Winstanley, Paul Lam and John Edmonds

The ojective of this study was to determine whether Tai Chi or hydrotherapy classes for individuals with chronic symptomatic hip or knee osteoarthritis (OA) result in measurable clinical benefits.  152 older persons with chronic symptomatic hip or knee OA were randomly allocated for 12 weeks to hydrotherapy classes, Tai Chi classes, or a waiting list control group. Outcomes were assessed 12 and 24 weeks after randomization and included pain and physical function, general health status, psychological well-being, and physical performance.  At 12 weeks, compared with controls, participants allocated to Tai Chi and hydrotherapy demonstrated improvements for pain and physical function scores. Both class allocations achieved significant improvements in their general health status but only allocation to hydrotherapy achieved significant improvements in the physical performance measures. All significant improvements were sustained at 24 weeks. The authors conclude that access to either hydrotherapy or Tai Chi classes can provide large and sustained improvements in physical function for many older, sedentary individuals with chronic hip or knee OA.

Arthritis Care and Research, 2007, 57(3), 407-414

Link to Abstract

Link to full text