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Health Information Hip Exercises Target Knee Osteoarthritis

Working your hips might just help ease that pain in your knees.

Researchers at Rush are testing a set of hip exercises aimed at decreasing the load on knee joints in patients with osteoarthritis.

They hope the approach will help alleviate pain and possibly even halt progression of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis and a major cause of disability and impaired quality of life.

One of the hallmarks of osteoarthritis is a higher-than-normal load on the knees during walking.

"Each time you take a step, a load -- or force -- is placed on the knee joints," says Laura Thorp, PhD, assistant professor of anatomy and cell biology at Rush Medical College and principal investigator for the study.

"How much load depends not just on your weight, but also on the way you walk and the alignment of your leg. If we can appropriately alter the gait patterns of patients with osteoarthritis, we can minimize the load and relieve pain."

The program is enrolling patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis, who have their knees x-rayed and undergo an initial assessment in Rush's Human Motion Laboratory to measure the load on their knee joints while walking. Then they follow a specific regimen of hip exercises for four weeks, after which participants are reassessed.

The exercises focus on strengthening the hip abductor muscles, which tend to be weak in patients with osteoarthritis. Strengthening these muscles helps the pelvis and the knee remain in better alignment, thereby lessening the load.

"Ultimately, we're hoping we can prevent the disease from advancing. No treatment currently exists that can stop osteoarthritis from progressing in the knees, other than joint replacement surgery."


More Information at Your Fingertips: 

  • If you'd like to participate in the Chicago-based study, please contact Rita Tharpe at (312) 563-2956..
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Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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