Osteoarthritis is a condition resulting from the degeneration of bones and joints, and a number of patients undergo a hip or knee replacement surgery to manage the pain. A new study published in Rheumatology International assessed whether patients with hip and knee replacement surgery had increased physical activity.
Degeneration of bones and joint cartilage leads to osteoarthritis (OA), a condition that causes joint pain, stiffness, and a decreased range of motion. Joints that are most commonly affected include the neck, lower back, knee, and hips. Common risk factors are abnormal joint development, previous injuries as well as genetic predispositions. While there is no direct treatment for OA, exercise and pain medications as well as efforts to decrease joint stress improve the quality of life in many patients.
OA specific to the knee and hip affects approximately 4% of people. Consistently, the number of individuals undergoing hip and knee replacements (total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA), respectively) has increased rapidly. These procedures generally improve pain and increase physical functioning. However, little is known about the impact of these surgeries on physical activity. A new study published in Rheumatology International aimed to assess physical activity in THA and TKA patients compared to the general population.
In this study, patients who underwent a THA/TKA surgery within the last 2 years were recruited from the Dutch population and compared to a control population. Physical activity and adherence to the Dutch recommendation for physical activity was assessed by a self-reported questionnaire. Results were adjusted for age, sex, BMI, education and musculoskeletal comorbidities.
The results of this study demonstrated that individuals who had a THA surgery spent more time per week conducting physical activity. Additionally, both THA and TKA patients were more likely to adhere to physical activity recommendations than the general population.
A few possible explanations for these results exist. Firstly, post-operative rehabilitation following THA/TKA surgeries includes independent ambulation as well as physiotherapy. These rehabilitation measures may motivate the patient to become more active than the generation population. Another explanation is that physical activity is a risk factor for THA/TKA surgery (i.e.receiving the surgery because of a sports injury). This may indicate that individuals who undergo the surgery were more physically active than the general population prior to surgery. Lastly, the patients filling out the survey about physical activity may have overestimated their physical activity.
This study gives insight into the physical activity levels of patients following hip and knee replacement surgery. Future studies should be aimed at determining activity levels both pre- and post-surgery, and at how rehabilitation work encourages patients to be more active.
Written By: Neeti Vashi, BSc