Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder in the world. While it currently affects an estimated 7% of the population, since both age and obesity have been linked with a higher prevalence of OA, this disorder may become increasingly common as the population ages and obesity rates soar.
This significant source of disability is frequently treated with hip replacement surgery. But the risks of surgery can be great, as the recent news of lawsuits over the failure hip implants remind us.
Fortunately, there may be natural treatments that provide an alternative to surgery. For patients with knee OA, exercise in combination with weight loss is an effective, conservative treatment option. However, little research has analyzed whether the same treatments can help patients with hip OA.
A new study sought to add to our understanding of the effect of exercise and weight loss on hip osteoarthritis. The study involved 30 adult patients with clinical and radiological evidence of hip OA who were overweight or obese (with a BMI of 35 or higher).
These patients participated in an eight-month program combining exercise and weight loss. Introduced to the participants as a lifestyle program, the treatment included weekly individual and group exercise focused on improving aerobic capacity, in addition to a weight-loss techniques based on principles of social cognitive theory and supporting the formation of healthy eating habits.
Participants reported a 32.6% improvement in physical function after eight months, along with significant improvements in pain and on walking tests. This study provides preliminary evidence of the effectiveness of a combined weight loss and exercise program. To the researchers’ knowledge, this is the first study investigating the effects of such a combined conservative treatment for hip osteoarthritis patients. Given the risks of hip replacement surgery, people with hip joint pain may benefit from natural treatments such as these.
Other recent research suggests that chiropractic treatment can provide natural relief of hip OA.
Paan N, et al. Effect of exercise and weight loss in patients with hip osteoarthritis who are overweight or obese: a prospective cohort study. Physical Therapy 2012; doi: 10.2522/ptj.20110418.