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Osteoarthritis is turning out to be one of the most common diseases that many people, especially the elderly suffer from and its prevalence is expected to continue increasing over time. The problem is that there is no cure and there has also been an increase in obesity cases. The only alternative for people suffering from Osteoarthritis is clinical management.

Unfortunately, the increasing Osteoarthritis cases will stress healthcare systems, thus the need to come up with more efficient means of managing the disease. Clinical management for osteoarthritis usually involves pharmacological interventions, non-pharmacological interventions, and sometimes surgery. Management styles can also be assigned based on the severity of the disease and other factors such as the joint site and comorbidities. This allows physicians to customize management options for patients.

Healthcare providers have been feeling the increasing need to focus on clinical guides on how to determine the best approach for each patient. Having a clinical guideline makes it easier for clinicians to determine the best treatment option while at the same time allowing the patient to receive the optimal approach to their condition. However, it gets more complicated.

“Leading experts and national and international organizations frequently publish guidelines outlining the best strategies for managing osteoarthritis,” stated Thomas Perry, the lead author in a study on osteoarthritis.

Is a unified approach the best option for achieving better healthcare for OA patients?

One of the major challenges is the lack of a unified organization that can issue the guidelines. There are multiple osteoarthritis organizations currently and each of them usually publishes new strategies for managing the disease. It is thus difficult for physicians to keep up with the changing guidelines especially with different guidelines coming up now and then.

A good example is what happened in 2019 when the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis (ESCEO) and Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) provided new guidelines for non-surgical OA management. However, Professor Nigel Arden of NDORMS proposed a review through which he worked together with ESCEO and OARSI to improve on the guidelines.

The revised guidelines by the two organizations ended up being quite similar and that is because they worked together and agreed on many of the measures suited for patients. It highlighted the need for joint efforts between all the organizations that provide management guidelines for osteoarthritis.