Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease; management should be patient centred and coordinated, with attention to modifiable risk factors and comorbidities
Focus on conservative non-drug treatment, particularly exercise; for overweight or obese patients weight loss is recommended
Management should be evidence based; do not use interventions with high cost and risk that outweigh their benefits
Use paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain relief, with due attention to precautions and contraindications
Refer patients to a physiotherapist for exercise, manual therapy, and gait aids; orthotist for bracing; psychologist for cognitive behavioural therapy; and dietitian for nutritional advice
Do not use arthroscopy for pain management; refer patients for joint replacement only when symptoms are severe and other treatments have failed
Osteoarthritis of the knee causes pain, limits activity, and impairs quality of life. Although it cannot be cured, advances in understanding and treatment have improved the outlook for people with this condition. This review will outline evidence for management and emphasise the importance of a patient centred multidisciplinary approach, conservative non-drug interventions, judicious use of drugs, and appropriate surgical referral.
Sources and selection criteria
We used recently published clinical guidelines for the management of osteoarthritis of the knee from the Osteoarthritis Research Society International, American College of Rheumatology, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, European League against Rheumatism, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and the Ottawa Panel. We also searched the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews(without time limits) and performed PubMed and Embase searches (January 2008 to March 2012) using the keywords “knee” and “osteoarthritis”. We selected high quality systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and large randomised controlled trials. When such studies were unavailable, we considered relevant small randomised controlled trials, cohort studies, and observational studies.
What is osteoarthritis and how common is it?
Osteoarthritis is a painful chronic joint disease characterised by structural changes to the whole joint, …