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Study Examines Care for Knee Osteoarthritis in the United States

A new study published in Arthritis Care & Research provides an overview of U.S. physicians’ recommendations for physical therapy, lifestyle counseling, pain medications for treating knee osteoarthritis.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019 12:01 am EDT
"Our major takeaway from this research is that patients might not be receiving optimum care for knee osteoarthritis. Physicians seem more focused on helping their patients manage their pain with medications, but it is also important to consider the long-term benefits of exercise for mitigating declines in physical health"

A new study published in Arthritis Care & Research provides an overview of U.S. physicians’ recommendations for physical therapy, lifestyle counseling, pain medications for treating knee osteoarthritis.

The study examined 2,297 physician visits for knee osteoarthritis from a National Database. For visits to orthopedists, physical therapy and lifestyle recommendation rates declined from 2007 to 2015, while prescriptions for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and narcotics (or opioids) increased. Among visits to primary care physicians, there were no significant changes in rates of physical therapy and lifestyle recommendation or narcotics prescriptions, while prescriptions for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs increased.

“Our major takeaway from this research is that patients might not be receiving optimum care for knee osteoarthritis. Physicians seem more focused on helping their patients manage their pain with medications, but it is also important to consider the long-term benefits of exercise for mitigating declines in physical health,” said lead author Samannaaz Khoja, PT, PhD, Research Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences’ Department of Physical Therapy. “Despite being part of clinical practice guidelines, exercise-based interventions are still being prescribed at a very low rate. More research is needed to determine barriers to prescribing exercise.” Dr. Khaja noted that although the observed increase in non-narcotic medication would be expected as part of standard treatment protocols, the rise in narcotic prescriptions is concerning and warrants attention.

Additional Information

Link to Study: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/acr.24064

About Journal 

Arthritis Care & Research, an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (a division of the College), is a peer-reviewed publication that publishes original research, review articles, and editorials that promote excellence in the clinical practice of rheumatology. Relevant to the care of individuals with rheumatic diseases, major topics are evidence-based practice studies, clinical problems, practice guidelines, educational, social, and public health issues, health economics, health care policy, and future trends in rheumatology practice.

About Wiley

Wiley drives the world forward with research and education. Through publishing, platforms and services, we help students, researchers, universities, and corporations to achieve their goals in an ever-changing world. For more than 200 years, we have delivered consistent performance to all of our stakeholders. The Company's website can be accessed at www.wiley.com.

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