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  1. Kechichian, Amelie PT, MSc


Background and Purpose: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSKDs) are the most common causes of disabilities for older adults. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to assess the effectiveness of multimodal interventions including exercise rehabilitation for older adults with chronic MSKDs.


Methods: A literature search was conducted up to February 2019 in 5 bibliographical databases to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared multimodal interventions including exercise rehabilitation with usual medical care or no intervention. Randomized controlled trials were assessed with the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool. Meta-analyses were performed and pooled mean differences (MDs) or standardized mean differences (SMDs) were calculated.


Results: Sixteen RCTs (n = 2322 participants) were included. One RCT was considered at low risk of bias, 8 had some concerns of bias, and 7 had a high risk of bias. Participants suffered from hip or knee osteoarthritis (OA) (n = 12 RCTs), low back pain (LBP) (n = 2 RCTs) and generalized chronic pain (GCP) (n = 2 RCTs). Multimodal interventions were significantly more effective than usual care to decrease pain (visual analog scale, out of 10 points) in the short term, MD: -0.71 (95% confidence interval [CI] -1.08 to -0.34, n = 900), and in the long term: MD: -0.52 (95% CI -0.98 to -0.05, n = 575), but these differences are not considered clinically important. In terms of disabilities, multimodal interventions were also significantly more effective than usual care. The SMDs were -0.47 (95% CI -0.61 to -0.34, n = 903) and -0.29 (95% CI -0.46 to -0.13, n = 568) for OA trials in the short and long terms, respectively, and -0.47 (95% CI -0.81 to -0.12, n = 211) for LBP and GCP trials in the short term. The magnitude of these effects may be considered as small to moderate.


Conclusion: Multimodal intervention including exercise rehabilitation combined with usual medical care is an efficacious therapeutic option to reduce disabilities in older adults with chronic MSKDs. A significant but not clinically important effect was observed for pain. The most beneficial component of the multimodal interventions in terms of education, exercises, or medication remains to be determined.