New research from the University of Melbourne shows that physiotherapy for hip osteoarthritis (OA) does not appear to relieve pain or increase function any more than “sham” treatments. For the study, Kim Bennell, PhD, and researchers randomly assigned patients with hip OA to attend 10 sessions of either active physiotherapy treatment (which included education and advice, manual therapy, home exercise and walking with an aid, if needed) or placebo treatments (which included inactive ultrasounds and gel), according to a news report from Science Daily.

Bennell says, “For 24 weeks after treatment, the physio group continued unsupervised home exercise while the placebo group self-applied gel three times a week. To our surprise, patient outcomes were roughly the same the 13 and 36 week intervals.” The Science Daily news report notes that the treatment group actually reported a greater number of adverse events, though most were relatively mild. Overall, the researchers found that physical therapy does not produce greater improvements in pain or function compared with a placebo treatment for painful hip OA.

Bennell explains, “These results question the benefits of the specific physiotherapy components for this patient population. We are currently conducting other trials to further examine the effects of other non-drug treatments for people with osteoarthritis to see whether benefits can be improved.”

Photo Appears Courtesy of Holly Satine

Sources: Science Daily, University of Melbourne