Effects of Aquatic Therapy and Land-Based Therapy versus Land-Based Therapy Alone on Range of Motion, Edema, and Function after Hip or Knee Replacement: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon


  • Purpose

    To determine whether aquatic therapy in combination with land-based therapy improves patient outcomes after hip or knee arthroplasty compared with land-based therapy alone.


    For this systematic review, six online databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, AMED, EMBASE, Cochrane, and PEDro) were searched from the earliest date available until September 2013. Controlled trials published in English in a peer-reviewed journal that compared aquatic therapy in combination with land-based therapy with land-based therapy alone were included; trial quality was assessed using the PEDro scale. Data were presented as standardized mean differences (SMDs), their associated 95% CIs, and meta-analyses.


    Three small trials of moderate quality were included in the qualitative analysis. Meta-analysis of two of these studies found moderate-quality evidence that aquatic therapy in combination with land-based therapy improves functional outcomes (SMD=0.53; 95% CI, 0.03-1.03), knee range of motion (measured in knee or hip arthroplasty; SMD=0.78; 95% CI, 0.27-1.29), and edema (SMD=-0.66; 95% CI, -1.16 to -0.15) compared with land-based therapy alone. The results for improved functional outcomes were not considered clinically significant.


    It is not possible to draw confident conclusions from this review because of the small number of studies of limited quality and the modest differences found. Further studies of sound methodological quality are required to confirm the results. Economic analysis alongside randomized controlled trials is needed to examine the cost-effectiveness of these clinical outcomes.

publication date

  • 2015