Study examines care for knee osteoarthritis in United States

A recent study published in Arthritis Care & Research centers on recommendations for physical therapy, pain medications, lifestyle counseling for knee osteoarthritis as per U.S. physicians.

For the recent study, experts analyzed 2,297 physician visits for knee osteoarthritis from a National Database.  Results concluded from 2007 to 2015, number of visits for physical therapy, orthopedists and for lifestyle recommendation declined considerably. No change however was observed among visits to primary care physicians. Furthermore, although there was no significant change in the number of physical therapy and narcotics prescriptions, prescriptions for nonsteroidal and anti-inflammatory increased.

Based on the study, scientists could infer that patients did not receive optimum care for knee osteoarthritis. It was further observed that physicians were more concerned to manage the patient’s  pain with medications. Experts however suggest that long-term benefits of exercise were equally important to mitigate declines in physical health.

“Despite being part of clinical practice guidelines, exercise-based interventions are still being prescribed at a very low rate. More research is needed to determine barriers to prescribing exercise,” explained lead author Samannaaz Khoja, PT, PhD, Research Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences’ Department of Physical Therapy.

The study concludes that although an increase in non-narcotic medication was expected as part of standard treatment protocols, the growth in narcotic prescriptions was concerning and required attention.