Aquatic exercise is recommended by the Osteoarthritis Research Society (OARSI), by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and by the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) as a nonpharmacological method of controlling the knee osteoarthritis (KOA) symptoms. Moreover, given that weight
loss results in a reduction of the load that is exerted upon the knee during daily activities, obesity is also considered to be a modifiable risk factor for the development and or exacerbation of KOA. The implementation of an exercise based weight loss program may, however, itself be limited by the symptoms of KOA. The aquatic program against osteoarthritis (termed “PICO”in Portuguese) prioritizes the control of symptoms and the recovery of functionality,
with an attendant increase in the patient’s physical activity level and, consequently, metabolic rate. Our laboratory is assessing the effectiveness of 3 months of PICO on the symptoms of KOA, on physical function, on quality of life and on gait. In addition, PICO shall examine the effects of said exercise intervention on inflammatory biomarkers, psychological health, life style and body composition.
The trial is a prospective, single-blinded, randomized controlled trial, and involves 50 overweight and obese adults (BMI = 28–43.5 kg/m2; age 40–65 yrs) with radiographic KOA. The participants are randomly allocated into either an educational attention (control) group or an aquatic (exercise program) group.
This paper describes the experimental protocol that is used in the PICO project.
The PICO program shall provide insight into the effectiveness of an aquatic exercise program in the control of KOA symptoms and in the improvement of the quality of life. As such, they are likely to prove a useful reference to health professionals who intend to implement any kind of therapeutic intervention based around aquatic exercise.
Trial registration: NCT01832545.
Keywords: Aquatic exercise, Knee osteoarthritis, Exercise, Pain, Obesity