Various OA therapies are often considered with regard to the phase of the illness, including non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic therapies and surgical management. With respect to mild OA, behavioral and non-pharmacologic therapies are preferred since they are not very invasive and patients tolerate them. All the therapies utilized for managing OA are characterized by limitations; however, solutions towards these issues are near. Because of this, this study was undertaken because up to now, very scant information exists with regard to physical therapy of the disease to assist patients and doctors to select the best training for managing disability limitations and pain in OA patients. This review seeks to locate answers in OA management via physical therapy.
From the assessment of clinical trials, it emerged that the Tai Chi program is extensively utilized for managing mild OA, particularly among older people. In two separate clinical trials, Wang investigated the impacts of a 12-week Tai Chi program in 40 patients, aged 55 suffering from tibiofemoral OA, and assessed effects on health status, joint proprioception, psychosocial variables, functional capacity, and pain to offer crucial preliminary data regarding the psychological and physical impacts of Tai Chi for OA, highlighting decreased pain, enhanced physical functions, as well as creating a comprehensive technique for testing mechanisms through which might affect life quality, disability, and pain for OA individuals [Wang et al., 2009; Wang et al., 2008). Lee et al. (2009) examined the impact of Qigong training (a Tai Chi discipline component, based on stretching) on the life quality and physical functions for patients suffering from knee OA. 44 elderly subjects (average age of 69 years) with knee OA were enrolled for the clinical trial, and the Tai Chi Qigong program featured 60 minute sessions, two times a week, for 8 weeks. The authors found that Tai Chi Qigong training tended to have beneficial impact on the life quality and physical functioning of elderly participants with OA, even when confirming the effectiveness of the training program in reducing pain as well as other health outcomes among elderly individuals with knee OA and cognitive impairment, in which participants enrolled in Tai Chi sessions, 3 sessions every week for 20 weeks. The authors noted that taking part in Tai Chi could be effective in decreasing stiffness and pain in people who have cognitive impairment and who are generally omitted from clinical trials since various measurement tools need verbal reports, which elderly individuals having cognitive impairment cannot provide. Moreover, no adverse effects were identified (Tsai et al., 2013). In contrast, many authors highlighted the importance of Tai Chi within mild OA; however, they recommended further research to ascertain the results.
Since there is scant evidence for higher benefits of one form of training over others in mild OA treatment, exercise programs, which combine strengthening exercises that increase aerobic ability and flexibility appear to be the ideal option of providing patients with mild OA, considering their tolerance and preferences.
In conclusion, what emerges in the analysis regarding the likelihood of mild OA therapy is that physical activity, whatever the exercise, is beneficial to treated patients. Such benefits include psychological, patho-physiological and pertain to the general well-being, depicted in daily activities. Therefore, we obtain an exponentially constructive value by identifying a virtuous cycle that prolongs patient training as they feel more able and less pain through promotion of additional improvements in OA symptoms. Still currently, however, physical activities are regarded as an optional and complementary therapy. The onus is with the health professionals to encourage the application of such possibility as the main treatment, particularly among patients suffering from mild OA that are more motivated since they are not affected by severe symptoms of OA characterized by high levels of disability and pain. With this paper, we hope to offer relevant input to health professionals that are still hesitant in adopting physical activity as the main tool within OA treatment.
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