Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is characterised by joint pain and mobility impairment associated with gradual wearing of cartilage and is a major cause of chronic musculoskeletal problems in older people. In Australia, around 10% of men and 18% of women suffer symptomatic osteoarthritis. There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis. Intervention is targeted at relieving symptoms, improving joint mobility and function, and maintaining quality of life.
Lifestyle modification, particularly weight loss and appropriate exercise, is important in both prevention and management of osteoarthritis. Multidisciplinary management plans need to focus on optimising the person’s quality of life by decreasing pain, improving function, and providing skills and knowledge to manage a chronic condition and avoid complications.
The program covers the Guideline recommendations in the primary health care setting and focuses on short term care, long term care planning and management, and multidisciplinary co-ordination. It outlines the evidence regarding effective management of symptomatic hip and knee osteoarthritis in adults up until referral for joint replacement. Best practice management covers the optimal use of medicines; non–pharmacological conservative management; and care and referral pathways.
This program is one of four in the Musculoskeletal Guideline Series. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has developed national musculoskeletal clinical guidelines for general practitioners and other primary care health professionals for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and osteoporosis.
Produced by the Rural Health Education Foundation