Health-related QoL & Msk function in patients with Msk disorders: Effects of Hydrotherapy

This study assessed health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and musculoskeletal function in patients with musculoskeletal disorders after participation in group-based aqua-exercising, compared to before participation.

Physiotherapists instructed group-based aqua-exercising for 30 min twice a week for 8 weeks in 39 patients (81% women, mean age 55 ± 12 years), with musculoskeletal disorders located in the back (28%), neck (17%), general myalgia (21%), lower extremities (9%), shoulder (7%) and multiple/other regions (18%). Before and after the aqua-exercising, physiotherapists assessed patients’ musculoskeletal function categorized using Goal Attainment Scaling, and HRQoL was measured using EuroQol 5 Dimensions (EQ-5D). The median EQ-5D score was 0.36 (25th–75th percentiles 0.09–0.69) at the start, and after the intervention improved to 0.62 (0.09–0.73) (p = 0.038). The EQ-5D score and musculoskeletal function improved in 49% (EQ-5D) and 34% (physiotherapist assessment), were stable in 33% and 63%, and worsened in 18% and 7% of patients, respectively.

In conclusion, comparable with improvements previously seen after more time-consuming exercise periods, patients with musculoskeletal disorders had improved HRQoL after 8 weeks of aqua-exercising compared to before exercising. This uncontrolled feasibility study does not reveal whether this was the result of aqua-exercising. The effects and costs need to be evaluated in randomized controlled studies.