Harvard Women's Health Watch

Exercise may help delay hip replacement

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Staying active builds muscle strength and improves flexibility and mobility. Now, a study in the November 2013 Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases finds an exercise regimen might even help you avoid hip replacement surgery. Researchers in Norway tested out an exercise therapy program in a group of 109 people with osteoarthritis of the hip. Participants were randomly assigned to a program of exercise therapy plus education about hip osteoarthritis, or education only for 12 weeks. Over six years of follow-up, 40% of people in the exercise therapy group needed to have a total hip replacement, compared with 57% in the education-only group. Exercisers who did need surgery were able to wait more than five years before having the procedure, compared with just three-and-a-half years in the other group. The researchers note that their study included only people with mild-to-moderate hip osteoarthritis, so the results don't apply to those with more severe symptoms, whose pain may not allow them to wait for surgery.

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