Osteoarthritis (OA) patients can benefit from a qualified, conservative therapy program, a Norwegian study, published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, suggests.

The cluster-randomized trial (CRT) comprised a program developed based on international treatment recommendations for hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) and included an initial 3-hour patient education program, among other things. This was followed by 8 to 12 weeks of individually tailored exercises supervised by physiotherapists. The program was facilitated by general practitioners, primary care physicians and physiotherapists, who also received prior training, according to a media release from the European League Against Rheumatism.

Study Compares Therapy Programs

In total, 393 patients participated in the study; 284 were included in the special osteoarthritis program and 109 (control group) continued their usual care. The participants were at least 45 years old and presented with clinical OA symptoms such as reduced mobility or pain. They were re-examined 12 months after the beginning of the program. The study parameters included but were not limited to quality of care, satisfaction with care, physical activity, and referrals to physiotherapy or orthopaedic surgeons. The researchers also recorded whether joint replacement surgery was performed.

Among the participants, 92% participated in the patient education program and 64% completed a minimum participation period of at least 8 weeks of exercise. Twelve months later, the intervention group reported a significantly higher quality of care (score of 58, versus 41 for the control group). The study participants also reported significantly higher satisfaction with care (Odds ratio (OR) 7.8; 95% CI 3.55, 17.27).

A significantly larger proportion (OR: 4.0; 95% CI 1.27, 12.63) also met the recommendations for physical activity compared to the control group. A smaller proportion was referred to orthopaedic surgeons (OR 0.5; 95% CI 0.29, 1.00) and an even smaller proportion (4%) received joint replacement surgery during the observation period, compared to the control group (11%, OR 0.3; 95% CI 0.14, 0.74), the release explains.

“The implementation of a structured model for OA care led to an improved quality of care, higher patient satisfaction and increased physical activity, despite OA.”

— study co-author Tuva Moseng, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway

There is also some evidence to suggest that a structured OA program including patient education and exercise may delay or even reduce the need for surgery after 12 months, the release adds.

[Source(s): European League Against Rheumatism, EurekAlert]

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