-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Starting aquatic therapy
within days after total knee replacement appears to improve patient
outcomes, but that's not the case for those who've had a total hip
replacement, according to a new study.
The number of patients having total knee and hip replacements is
increasing, but there is a lack of agreement about the best type of
post-surgical treatment, noted the German researchers.
Aquatic therapy has been shown to be beneficial and typically
begins two weeks after surgery, when the wound has healed.
This study found that beginning aquatic therapy just six days
after total knee replacement may lead to improved results, while
delaying the start of aquatic therapy for an additional week may be
more appropriate for patients who've had a total hip
Patients who'd had total knee or total hip replacement were
randomly assigned to undergo aquatic therapy either six or 14 days
after surgery. Both groups had 30-minute therapy sessions three
times a week up to the fifth week after surgery. Their physical
function, pain and stiffness were evaluated three, six, 12 and 24
months after surgery.
All of the outcome measures were better in the knee replacement
patients who started aquatic therapy six days after their surgery,
compared to those who began therapy 14 days after surgery.
But the opposite was true among the hip replacement patients,
lead investigator Dr. Thoralf Liebs, of the University of
Schleswig-Holstein Medical Center in Kiel, and colleagues
The findings were released online in advance of publication in
an upcoming print issue of the
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Total hip replacement "has a high rate of patient satisfaction,
and patients report an improved quality of life after the
procedure. Additional interventions, such as early aquatic therapy,
may not lead to much improvement," Liebs suggested in a journal
news release. But, after total knee replacement, "patients are less
satisfied, so the additional intervention has a greater
Liebs hypothesized that the force of the water during aquatic
therapy reduces buildup of fluid in the knee joint. Because the
knee capsule is closed after knee replacement, reduced fluid
buildup leads to less pain. But in hip replacement surgery, the
joint capsule is not closed, so the effect of reduced fluid buildup
is less, Liebs explained in the news release.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about
total joint replacement.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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