Background Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic joint disease with the hip and knee being commonly affected lower limb sites. There is evidence supporting that aerobic and strength training is beneficial for reducing pain and improving physical function in older adults with mild-to-moderate knee and hip OA. Good physical function is crucial in preventing fall-induced injuries in OA patients.
Methods The aim of this pilot study is to test the safety and feasibility of a tailored exercise program with particular emphasis on maintaining appropriate training intensity while minimising adverse events and injuries.
The self-reported disease-specific pain and physical function will be assessed using the pain and functioning subscales of the WOMAC questionnaire (range 0–100 mm) at baseline and at 12 weeks. The maximal leg-extensor strength, dynamic balance, Timed-up and go (TUG), Short physical performance battery (SPPB; includes tests of balance, 4-metre walking speed and 5-time chair stand) will be used in assessing physical functioning objectively. In addition, hip range of motion and stair-climb-test (step height 20 cm) will be used.
Thirteen women with diagnosed hip OA were recruited and received the exercise program 3 times a week. Main inclusion criteria were age ≥65 years, pain experienced in the hip region and living at home independently.
Results The pilot study started in September 2015, and the end point measurements will be done in December 2015. Dimensions such as intensity progression, individual tailoring of exercises and suitability for varying pain levels and functional ability will be evaluated. In assessing the treatment outcomes, each participant will function as her own control.
Conclusions Training intensity needs to be optimal to insure safety as well as progression in physical function and pain relief. The larger randomised controlled trial will be planned according to experience and feedback received from this pilot study.