Waller (2014) Effect of Therapeutic Aquatic Exercise on Symptoms and function associated with lower limb osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis

Introduction: Understanding Hydrotherapy’s Role in Osteoarthritis Management

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a prevalent condition affecting the lower limbs, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. While there’s no cure, managing symptoms through various treatments is crucial. Among these, therapeutic aquatic exercise (TAE) has gained attention for its potential benefits. This systematic review and meta-analysis aim to evaluate TAE’s effectiveness on symptoms and function in patients with lower limb OA.

Methodology: Navigating Through the Research

We delved into multiple databases, selecting randomized controlled trials that compared TAE with non-exercise controls. Our criteria led us to 11 high-quality studies involving 1,092 participants. We assessed methodological quality using the PEDro scale and extracted data on pain, stiffness, self-reported function, physical performance, and quality of life.

Results: Unveiling the Impact of Aquatic Exercise

Our analysis revealed that TAE significantly reduces pain and stiffness and improves self-reported function and physical performance in lower limb OA patients. The benefits extended to quality of life, highlighting TAE’s comprehensive impact. However, variations in study designs and measures warrant cautious interpretation of these findings.

Discussion: Hydrotherapy as a Key Player in OA Management

TAE emerges as a promising intervention for lower limb OA, offering pain relief and functional improvements. Its low-impact nature makes it suitable for individuals who might struggle with land-based exercises. However, the optimal exercise type, intensity, and duration remain to be pinpointed for maximizing benefits.

Conclusion: Embracing Aquatic Therapy in OA Care

The evidence supports incorporating TAE into OA management strategies, particularly for those with lower limb involvement. Future research should focus on refining TAE protocols and understanding long-term outcomes to enhance patient care in this population.


Keywords: Hydrotherapy, lower limb osteoarthritis, therapeutic aquatic exercise, meta-analysis, systematic review.

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Benjamin Waller; 2014, osteoarthritis; lower limb; symptoms; function; aquatic exercise; aquatic therapy