Two facts about the management of osteoarthritis known by most rheumatologists – that surgery is the last resort and exercise is best – are going to be shared with all Australian GPs thanks to the publication of new guidelines.
Published by the RACGP and endorsed by the NHMRC as well as professional and consumer organisations the guidelines outline the importance of long-term management of the condition and focus on non-surgical interventions such as exercise and weight loss.
“Osteoarthritis can be diagnosed clinically and the guidelines emphasise less use of imaging and arthroscopy. This can lead to a decrease in the overall health expenditure for osteoarthritis,” said co-author Professor David Hunter from the University of Sydney.
In line with latest evidence the guidelines also discourage the use of opioids and diagnostic imaging.
RACGP President-elect Dr Harry Nespolon said the updated guidelines were needed because of our ageing population, rising levels of obesity and the predicted rise in OA rates in the next decade.
“After comprehensive research and review, it’s important the medical profession is updated on how best to approach the growing concern of osteoarthritis,” he said.
“When reviewing the statistics, it is alarming how many surgeries may have been completed unnecessarily and with little gain.
“Every patient is different, but exercise is the new front runner when it comes to best management, ahead of previous invasive recommendations of surgery and medications,” he added.