Arthritis in any joint is a bad thing and sucks your quality of life. At a time when should be enjoying life more, you find you can’t move because of hip pain.
When you were younger, nothing slowed you down but now, even a short trip to the mall sucks. And forget exercise—it’s way too painful.
I see this scenario all too often in my practice. And certainly not just the hip, but also the knee and spine. Arthritis in any of these areas can be painful enough to put a dent in your quality of life.
The best way to deal with arthritis is to prevent it in the first place by staying active, maintaining an ideal body weight and living an anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory lifestyle. All of these things will go a long way towards keeping arthritis at bay for a lifetime.
If you read my recent blog post on the links between arthritis and heart disease (which can be read by clicking here), then you already know that joints need motion to get nutrition in and waste products out. And this applies to a perfectly healthy joint or a joint riddled with arthritis. Movement is key.
That is one of the reasons why we are able to help most of the arthritis sufferers that come into our office. The combination of advanced soft tissue techniques (like Graston, ART, NMR and Fascial Manipulation) with stretching and chiropractic adjusting goes a long way towards keeping joints moving and lubricated.
However, if the patient that comes into our office decides to leave our office and sit his or her butt back on the couch, the outcome is not going to be nearly as good. As I mentioned, exercise is a key component to the management of arthritis, both treatment and prevention.
For clarification, I am not talking about “exercises” that you would get from a therapist or from an orthopedic surgeon. I have always explained to patients that, when combined with treatment in our office, life is rehab enough. Hiking, yoga, tai-chi, tennis, racquetball—these are the types of activities that will keep your joints lubricated and moving. Not spending 20 minutes every morning doing hip-specific stretching and exercises.
But just how powerful can exercise be if you already have arthritis of the hip? Even worse, if you have been told your only answer is a hip replacement?
For that answer, I bring you this particular study. In it, researchers asked just this same question in a group of 109 patients who had painful arthritis of the hip confirmed by X-ray. They were given either exercise therapy and patient education or patient education only and followed for 6 years to seen what effect the exercises had on saving the hip and preventing the hip replacement.
The results may surprise you:
- 22 patients (59%) in the combo group ended up having a hip replacement while 31 (75%) patients in the education-only group had a total hip replacement.
- To put this another way, 41% in the combo group save their hips, but only 25% in the exercise-alone group avoided the hip replacement.
- Overall, this meant that those who did the exercises had a 44% lower risk of having the hip replaced.
- Even better, in those that did end up with a hip replacement, the exercise group delayed the surgery for 5.4 years while the education-alone group had the replacement done at 3.5 years, almost a full 2 years earlier.
This is not too shabby for a treatment that has no cost, no side effects and is going to have lots of additional benefits.
Contrast this with the use of anti-inflammatories to control the pain of hip arthritis. NSAIDs will destroy your intestinal tract, destroy your brain, give you a heart attack or stroke and, paradoxically, lead to the destruction of the joint that you are trying to protect.
Quite a difference.