Activity Helps Arthritis

Researchers at the George Institute for International Health at the University of Sydney, Australia conducted a randomized controlled trial with 152 individuals with chronic knee or hip osteoarthritis. The individuals were divided randomly into three groups. One group of 55 individuals had 12 weeks of hydrotherapy class, one group of 56 individuals had 12 weeks of Tai Chi classes and the control group of 41 individuals had no therapy or treatment.

Results: At 12 weeks, individuals participating in the hydrotherapy or the Tai Chi classes had improvements in function and pain compared with the control group. Only the individuals in the hydrotherapy group had significant improvements in the physical performance measures. Improvements in pain and function were sustained in both groups at 24 weeks. Participants in the hydrotherapy group were also more likely to attend the classes, with 81% of the class attending more than half of the classes available. Only 61% of the participants attended more than half of the Tai Chi classes available.

Summary: Physical activity, whether hydrotherapy or Tai Chi, can decrease pain and improve function for those with chronic knee or hip osteoarthritis. Although this study demonstrates more improvement with hydrotherapy, it is unclear if this is a result of participation, or the actually activity.

Fransen M, et al. Physical activity for osteoarthritis management: a randomized controlled clinical trial evaluating hydrotherapy or Tai Chi classes. Arthritis Rheum. 2007 Apr 15;57(3):407-14.

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