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Feature Article

‘My knees can tell the weather’: effective management of osteoarthritis

Odette McNeill, Kevin D Pile

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Abstract

Osteoarthritis has major implications on the health system and is a common ailment, especially in the growing elderly population. It is prudent to recognise this condition, so effective management can be deployed to avoid excessive pain and potential deformities, and improve quality of life.

Key Points

  • The burden of osteoarthritis is increasing with our ageing and overweight population.
  • Careful history and examination will confirm the diagnosis of osteoarthritis in most patients.
  • Uncomplicated osteoarthritis with typical clinical characteristics rarely warrants further investigations.
  • Nonpharmacological therapy should always be part of a patient’s management strategy because it may significantly reduce pain and disability and may reduce or negate the need for pharmacological treatment. These therapies include educational strategies aimed at weight reduction, exercise and improved muscle tone.
  • Adequate use of paracetamol combined with NSAIDs when needed will help many patients to be able to increase their physical activity.
  • Referral of patients with osteoarthritis for a surgical opinion should be carried out in a timely manner.

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