Will Physical Therapy Help Your Hip Osteoarthritis?

February 4, 2014 in STSMPT

Research says yes! Various studies have shown that both exercise and manual therapy reduce the associated pain and disability of osteoarthritis and are recommended as first line treatments.(1-5) Dr. Alexis Wright and colleagues recently added to the body of research by completing a study that identified five predictors of positive response to physical therapy of hip osteoarthritis.(6)

The five predictors are one-sided hip pain, age 58 or younger, pain of 6 or greater on a 10-point scale, self-paced walk test of 40 meters (approximately 44 yards) in 25.9 seconds or less, and duration of symptoms of less than one year. The researchers found that the presence of just one of these suggests an average response to physical therapy. If two predictors were present, this doubles the likelihood of a positive response. The presence of three predictors suggests a 99% likelihood of therapy success.

To conduct the study, researchers recruited 91 patients from doctors’ offices and from an orthopedic center where patients had been referred for surgery assessment and consultation. Patients were randomized into usual care from a doctor and other healthcare providers and three physical therapy arms (manual therapy, exercise therapy, and combined therapy). Patients received nine, one-hour therapy sessions. Treatment success was defined as a three-point or greater improvement on an 11-point pain rating scale after one year.

In general, patients in the usual care arm only achieved important improvements in pain 2% of the time. Patients in the physical therapy arm achieved important improvements in pain after one year in 32% of cases. Physical therapy has solutions for many types of arthritis pain and disability – especially osteoarthritis. Call us today and give physical therapy a try if arthritis is holding you back.


1. Pinto D, Robertson M, Abbott J, et al. Manual therapy, exercise therapy, or both, in addition to usual care, for osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. 2: economic evaluation alongside a randomized controlled trial. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 2013; joca.2013.06.014.

2. Hernandez-Molina G, Reichenbach S, Zhang B, et al. Effect of therapeutic exercise for hip osteoarthritis pain: results of a meta-analysis. Arthritis Rheum. 2008; 58: 1221-1228.

3. Hoeksma H, Dekker J, Ronday H, et al. Comparison of manual therapy and exercise therapy in osteoarthritis of the hip: a randomized clinical trial. Arthritis Rheum. 2004; 51: 722-729.

4. Yelin E, Murphy L, Cisternas M, et al. Medical care expenditures and earnings losses among persons with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in 2003, and comparisons with 1997. Arthritis Rheum. 2007; 56: 1397-1407.

5. Osteoarthritis NICE. The Care and Management of Osteoarthritis in Adults. London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence; 2008.

6. Wright A, Cook C, Flynn T, et al. Predictors of response to physical therapy intervention in patients with primary hip osteoarthritis. Physical Therapy. 2011; 94 (4): 510-524.

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