In some cases, osteoarthritis (OA) in the hip and knee can be quite painful and functionally limiting. Although the condition itself cannot be reversed, it is possible to minimise or even eliminate the painful symptoms. Current guidelines recommend exercise as part of the first-line treatment, with pain relief medication being recommended as second-line treatment. But how do they really compare? A recent research article by (Weng et al., 2023) compared the efficacy of exercise therapy to oral anti-inflammatory drugs and paracetamol.
How was this study performed?
The authors performed a systematic review, which involves reviewing existing research and evidence. In this study, they reviewed a total of 152 research articles related to the efficacy of exercise therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs and paracetamol, and “usual care”. Usual care was referred to as control groups that were not given any specific intervention “waiting list”, usual physical activity or no treatment.
What were the findings?
Exercise vs usual care
Exercise was more effective than usual care in both pain relief and functional improvement at four, eight, and 24 weeks.
Exercise vs oral anti-inflammatory drugs and paracetamol
Exercise was just as effective in providing pain relief and functional improvements as oral anti-inflammatory drugs and paracetamol at four, eight, and 24 weeks!
What does this all mean?
These results show that exercise is an effective treatment tool for reducing pain and improving physical function in people with hip or knee OA! Furthermore, with its analgesic effect being comparable to that of oral anti-inflammatory drugs and paracetamol, these findings confirm that an exercise is a form of medicine. With exercise not carrying the higher risk of adverse events related to these pain medications, it also offers itself as a much safer alternative, particularly for older people with comorbidities.
How can I exercise safely to achieve these results?
If you have hip or knee OA and you’re keen on getting into an exercise routine, we recommend meeting with one of our Physiotherapists. They will perform a full assessment to determine what kind of exercise is best for you and how to go about it. There are plenty of different types of exercise and this can be tailored to your preferences. One great option to consider is the GLA:D program!
If you need assistance determining what you need for hip and knee osteoarthritis, give us a call on 94315955 or book online now.
Article title: Comparative efficacy of exercise therapy and oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and paracetamol for knee or hip osteoarthritis: a network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials by (Weng et al., 2023).
Full research article: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2023/01/02/bjsports-2022-105898
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