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AIM: To determine if the addition of hip-strengthening exercises decreases pain and improves function in patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome.

METHODS: The authors completed a systematic review searching eight databases (i.e. , PubMed, Cochrane, CINHAL, MEDLINE, SportsDiscus, EMBASE, APTA Hooked on Evidence, and PEDro). Two independent reviewers screened and excluded studies if they did not meet the following inclusion criteria: subjects had a primary diagnosis of patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), intervention group included hip-strengthening exercises, control group included a traditional physical therapy intervention, study included outcome measures of pain and/or function, study used a randomized controlled trial design, PEDro score was ≥ 7, and study was published in a peer-reviewed journal. Primary outcome measures were subjective scales of pain and function. These measures were converted to standardized mean difference [effect size (ES)], and a random-effects model was used to calculate the overall ES.

RESULTS: Two hundred eighty-three studies were screened for inclusion in our meta-analysis. Nine studies were deemed suitable for data extraction and analysis. A total of 426 subjects were used in the nine studies. Overall, there was a significant positive effect of hip-strengthening exercises on measures of pain and function in subjects with PFPS (ES = 0.94, P = 0.00004). None of the individual studies had a negative ES, with study ES ranging from 0.35 to 2.59. Because of the high degree of between-study variance (I 2 = 76%; Q = 34.0, P < 0.001), subgroup meta-analyses and meta-regressions were performed. None of the potential moderator variables that were investigated (e.g. , outcome type, hip region targeted, duration of treatment) could explain a significant amount of the between-study variance in ES (P ≥ 0.23).

CONCLUSION: Overall, the addition of hip-strengthening exercises to traditional physical therapy produced greater improvements in measures of pain and function.


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Morelli, K.M., M. Carrelli, M.A. Nunez, C. Smith, and G.L. Warren. Addition of hip exercises to treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome: A meta-analysis. World J. Meta-Anal. 3: 118-124, 2015. DOI: 10.13105/wjma.v3.i2.118