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Hydrotherapy And Exercise Help Arthritis Patients

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Participation in either a hydrotherapy program or a gym-based exercise program for just 6 weeks improves the functional of patients with osteoarthritis (OA). “However, it seems that hydrotherapy may be more suitable for aerobic-based exercise programs and the gym-based exercise program more suitable for strengthening programs,” researchers report.

Participation in either a hydrotherapy program or a gym-based exercise program for just 6 weeks improves the functional of patients with osteoarthritis (OA). “However, it seems that hydrotherapy may be more suitable for aerobic-based exercise programs and the gym-based exercise program more suitable for strengthening programs,” researchers report. Although previous studies have looked at the benefits of hydrotherapy resistance exercise for OA, all have suffered from various flaws in the study design, Dr. Maria Crotty, from Flinders University in Daws Park, Australia, and colleagues note in the December issue of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Moreover, it is unclear how hydrotherapy compares with more traditional gym-based exercise. In a new study, the investigators randomly assigned 105 adults with OA to receive hydrotherapy, gym-based exercise, or no special training for 6 weeks. In both intervention groups, sessions were held three times a week and focused on various strengthening exercises. The gym group experienced a significant improvement in bilateral quadriceps (thigh muscle) strength compared with the control group. The gym group also demonstrated significantly better strength in the right quadriceps than the hydrotherapy group. Hydrotherapy provided an improvement in left quadriceps strength compared with no training. Compared with no training, hydrotherapy was associated with an improvement in walking distance and scores on the physical functioning component of a quality of life scale. The gym intervention was tied to improvements in walking speed and patient satisfaction. Eight-four percent of the hydrotherapy group adhered to the program, as did 75 percent of the subjects in the gym-based group, the researchers note. The two groups were also similar in terms of changes in OA drug use during the study. “Patients with severe OA who find it painful to bear weight for extended periods may find that water provides the appropriate environment in which they can exercise at intensities that may confer significant health benefits,” the authors note. However, if the goal is to improve muscle strength, a land-based program provides the best results, they add. (Source: Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, MEDline Plus December 2003)

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Posted On: 3 December, 2003
Modified On: 7 December, 2013

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