Updating Osteoarthritis Treatment Recommendations

To help clinicians manage the increasing number of patients with osteoarthritis (OA), the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) revised its guidelines for using non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic therapies in OA of the hand, hip, and knee. Published in an issue of Arthritis Care & Research, the guidelines update recommendations from 2000. According to the ACR, management of OA should begin with treatments that are beneficial and have the lowest possible risk. Prior to recommending prescription medication and surgery, low-risk modalities (eg, weight loss and exercise) should be attempted. Treatments with greater risk may be used when simpler treatments fail. Hand Osteoarthritis Potential treatment modalities for hand OA include an assessment of activities of daily living, use of assistive devices, joint protection techniques, thermal agents, and trapeziometacarpal joint splinting. Oral and topical NSAIDs, topical capsaicin, and tramadol are other treatment modalities for hand OA, but opioids and intra-articular therapies are not recommended. Topical NSAIDs are preferred to oral administration in patients aged 75 and older, thus putting an emphasis on using these agents conservatively when possible. “New therapies for OA and additional information on the safety and acceptability of existing therapies have emerged.” Knee Osteoarthritis For knee OA, aerobic or resistance land-based exercise, aquatic exercise, and weight loss are strongly recommended in the guideline update. Conditionally recommended modalities include self-management programs like manual therapy with supervised exercise, tai chi, and wedged insoles. For moderate to severe pain in patients who do not wish to undergo joint replacement, acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are recommended. Conditionally recommended pharmacologic modalities include acetaminophen, oral and topical NSAIDs, tramadol, and intra-articular corticosteroid injections....