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Physician Update – April 2022

Hip Exercises: A Secret Fix for Knee Pain?


As physicians, we know better than anyone how interrelated all of the parts of the body are. But sometimes research emerges that surprises even us — like a recent systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature on knee pain published by the Journal of Pain Research.
The analysis focused specifically on patients with patellofemoral pain (PFP) and how different strengthening exercises helped with their rehabilitation. The authors’ goal was to “compare the effects of hip and knee, hip-only, and knee-only exercise programs on pain relief, muscle strength, and functional performance in patients with PFP.”

They examined 13 different studies and came to a surprising conclusion: While the programs with both hip and knee exercises “reduce[d] pain and improve[d] function more
than other exercise programs,” the hip-only exercise programs were just as effective in
most outcome measures.

Interesting, right?

As a physical therapist, exercise programs like these are one of many effective tools in my arsenal to treat patients’ aches and pains and rehabilitate them after injury and surgery. As
the authors of this study noted, “Research suggests that muscle strength exercise is the
most effective rehabilitation method in patients with patellofemoral pain,” and PFP is far from the only condition where this is the case.

Physical therapist-directed exercise programs and other interventions are also effective
treatments for common hip problems, like trochanteric bursitis and osteoarthritis, and are key components of recovery after hip fracture. Last year, a Yale review of 246 patients recovering from hip fractures found that even a simple assessment by a physical
therapist effectively reduced patients’ length of stay (LOS) at a skilled nursing facility (SNF).

“Participant patients spent, on average,23 days at the SNF, while nonparticipant providers patients spent 31 days,” the researchers reported, adding that the assessment also significantly reduced costs. The study concluded, “SNF LOS for geriatric hip fractures can be decreased with implementation of a simple physical therapy driven algorithm based on the patient’s ambulatory independence at hospital discharge. … This is a simple, yet completely unique program that seems to have increased the value of health care provided.”

PT is just as vital for hip health preoperation, as proven in a 2020 controlled prospective clinical trial that tested the impact of preoperative PT education given to patients before hip replacement surgery. Researchers found, “A structured interactive preoperative physical therapy education program for patients undergoing a [total hip arthoplasty] may reduce anxiety, generate a faster recovery, reduce pain, and promote higher satisfaction.”

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Julian Manrique

Focus Physical Therapy

"We Help Adults Get Back To Their Normal Active Lifestyles Naturally...While Avoiding Medications, Injections, And Surgeries"