THE RESEARCH NUMBERS ARE IN – GLA:D EXERCISES FOR OSTEOARTHRITIS IS THE WINNER!

Mimi Yamakawa-Armstrong

July 25, 2022

The GLA:D (Good Life with OsteoArthritis Denmark) program is an exercise and education-based program designed by researchers in Denmark for people with knee or hip Osteoarthritis symptoms. In 2017, La Trobe University launched the program in Australia and here is the latest research findings from 2022, with the main findings following 3 and 12 months reduced pain intensity, reduced use of pain medication and improvement in quality of life. Participants also reduced their desire to have joint replacement surgery following completion of the program.

SO WHAT DOES THE GLA:D program involve?

The Standardised GLA:D Program design includes:

  • GLA:D trained and certified physiotherapists
  • An initial assessment
  • 6 weeks of education, exercise training and support
  • Standardised and individualised programs tailored to fit the needs and goals of each participant
  • Education sessions and supervised/self-directed exercises for 6 weeks

GLA:D participants can opt to help an international-wide registry to collect patient-reported data for future research. This information from the past 5 years in Australia has enabled the program to be fine-tuned and collaborated to measure the effects of exercise and education in hip and knee osteoarthritis.

Supervised GLA:D exercise class

Here are the findings in more detail:

THE ANNUAL REPORT FINDINGS

Total participants in study = 10424

  • 82% Knee as primary problem joint
  • 18% Hip as primary problem joint
  • 71% are woman
  • Average age = 65yrs (ranges 23-93)
  • 60% also had co-morbidities (30% reported Hypertension and 18% reported High Cholesterol)

Knee OA participants:

  • Average BMI = 30.3 (80% overweight or obese)
  • 74% of participants experienced greater than 12 months of symptoms prior to commencement of the GLA:D program

Hip OA participants:

  • Average BMI = 28.6 (71% overweight or obese)
  • 86% of participants experienced >12months of symptoms prior to program

After 3 months of the GLA:D program:

  • Reduced pain intensity by 30%
  • Reduced intake of painkillers such as paracetamol, NSAIDs or opioids
  • Higher quality of life and improved physical function

After 12 months of the GLA:D program:

  • Continued reduced pain intensity and reduced intake of painkillers and further improvement in quality of life and physical activity participation

Joint replacement surgery – Knee OA participants:

  • 26% wanted to undertake surgery before the GLA:D program
  • After 12 months, 63% of these participants had not received surgery and no longer had the desire to have surgery

Joint replacement surgery – Hip OA participants:

  • 24% wanted to undertake surgery before the GLA:D program
  • After 12 months, 49% of these participants had not received surgery and no longer had the desire to have surgery

FURTHER INFORMATION ON GLA:D AND OA

Early Hip OA continuum:

Various conditions such as Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI), undiagnosed hip dysplasia (DDH), and/or Labrum pathology have been suggested to be a potential contributing factor to the development of Hip OA. Regardless of the underlying cause if the hip issue,  reduced muscle strength around the hip and core are common presentations in those with OA symptoms. Therefore, there is strong evidence that strengthening may be the key to prevent and treat pain in the early stages of hip OA.

OA as a systemic disease:

A high percentage of GLA:D participants were overweight or obese. An equally high percentage of participants reported having co-morbidities such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Helping people with OA become for physically active with the GLA:D program is crucial, especially because a high percentage of patients with hip and knee OA are not meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines.

Chronic co-morbidities, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia are often associated with chronic low-grade inflammations. Physical activity and exercise therapy such as the GLA:D program will not only improve OA symptoms and impairments, but will also help prevent and treat a wide range of chronic conditions.

The education component of the GLA:D program helps to ensure long-term adherence and continued activity levels.

Grand Slam Physio has 6 GLA:D certified physios and offer classes at both our Geelong and Torquay clinics. For more information check out this link, call the clinic or book online at Geelong or Torquay an initial assessment today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

With postgraduate training in paediatric physiotherapy, Mimi enjoys treating children and adolescents and has a special interest in spinal, neck and pelvic/hip injuries. Mimi is in the final stages of completing her Master’s in Sports and Exercise Physiotherapy and with a keen interest in golf, is a Titleist performance institute certified golf screening practitioner.