AAOS releases new guidelines for knee osteoarthritis

July 8, 2013

Topic: orthopaedic problems

High-impact training may help osteoarthritis patients

Osteoarthritis currently plagues approximately 33 million American adults, and orthopaedic professionals continue to look for new ways to alleviate symptoms among the affected population. To help guide physicians with treating patients, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons released a revised version of the clinical practice guidelines on the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. 

Orthopaedic clinicians strive to help osteoarthritis patients improve their joint function, keep a healthy body weight, control pain and achieve a healthy lifestyle, according to the National Institutes of Health. Treatment tends to include a combination of medication, alternative therapy and healthy lifestyle choices.  

The new guidelines note two important changes to osteoarthritis care. First, doctors tend to recommend that patients take acetaminophen to manage their discomfort. The new recommended dosage has decreased from 4,000 milligrams to 3,000 mg. a day. This reduction was made by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2009, but the guidelines are just now reflecting the adjustment. 

The second key change has to do with the use of intra-articular hyaluronic acid. While this was previously a method of treatment for knee osteoarthritis, it is no longer advised. This is because the data collected from 14 different studies found that the method was not statistically significant in improving symptoms. 

Weight management is key treatment component
The revision also included a few other recommendations. These include the suggestions that patients who only experience osteoarthritis symptoms and no other major related problems should not undergo arthroscopic lavage. In addition, patients who have a body mass index that is above 25 should be advised to lose at least 5 percent of their weight, and all osteoarthritis patients should start or increase their engagement in low-impact aerobic exercise. 

"One of the best ways for a patient to reduce his or her pain and realize better health is to be proactive," said David Jevsevar, M.D., M.B.A., chair of the AAOS Evidence Based Practice Committee and an orthopaedic surgeon. "For instance, if a patient is overweight, losing weight is probably the best thing he or she can do to slow the progression of osteoarthritis of the knee."

Ultimately, orthopaedic providers need to work with their patients to develop a treatment plan that is specific to their medical needs so that they can prevent worsening of the disease and stop other orthopaedic problems from occurring. 

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