Making further improvements in physiotherapy treatment of
adults with hip osteoarthritis could bring
multimillion-dollar benefits, including better quality of
life, two recent studies suggest.
Those studies, involving University of Otago researchers,
also suggest that providing more sharply-focused
physiotherapy treatment is likely to deliver better outcomes
for adults with hip osteoarthritis than the common practice
of combining several treatments.
The two studies, the first based on Dunedin research, were
either led by or co-authored by Associate Prof Haxby Abbott,
of the Otago University department of surgical sciences.
Hip and joint osteoarthritis adversely affect hundreds of
thousands of New Zealanders and more than $550 million is
spent on related treatment, including drug and surgery costs,
The wider economic cost of the two osteoarthritis conditions,
including lost productivity, was estimated at $2.2 billion in
Research showed exercise therapy or manual therapy could
provide ''life-transforming'' benefits for many people with
hip osteoarthritis, Prof Haxby said.
A new study co-authored by Prof Haxby and published this
month found combining several physiotherapy treatments did
not produce greater improvements in pain or function than
inactive ''sham'' treatments among adults with hip
The latest research has been published in the Journal of the
American Medical Association.
Those findings and an earlier Otago study provided an
important message to physiotherapists that the combined
''multi-modal'' approach was ''not as effective as it could
be'', he said in an interview.
Both studies suggested physiotherapists should ''focus on
delivering one mode of therapy at a time, do it well, and
deliver an adequate dose of that therapy'', instead of
providing many different kinds of therapy for osteoarthritis
patients, he said.
The latest study, led by Prof Kim Bennell, of Melbourne
University, randomly selected hip osteoarthritis patients to
attend sessions of either active physiotherapy treatment,
including manual therapy and exercise therapy, or ''placebo
treatments'', including inactive ''sham'' ultrasound therapy.
Results of the ''multi-modal'' approach were no better than
an attentive physiotherapist delivering ''sham'' treatments,
combined with health advice.