“These findings support the general clinical recommendations stating that patients diagnosed with hip OA should be offered patient education and exercise therapy as the first treatment approach,” says Svege. “This is important for patients who may avoid surgery and its potential complications.”

Although the study did not document whether any of the patients continued to exercise beyond 12 weeks, Ms. Svege says, “I would absolutely recommend patients with hip OA to continue to exercise, and in fact, all patients in this study were advised to increase or maintain their level of activity.”

She notes that total hip replacement surgery remains a good option for people with advanced disease, severe pain, and functional limitations.
“This study is of interest, and may reflect the fact that those who exercise have less pain than those who do not. The main reason for surgery is pain,” says Scott Zashin, MD, a rheumatologist in private practice in Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Zashin said that it was notable that there was less progression of joint disease (as seen on X-ray) in patients who exercised compared to those who did not, whether or not they had surgery.