May 28, 2012 – The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has issued new recommendations for the use of non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic therapies in osteoarthritis of the hand, hip, and knee. Tai Chi is among the list. The recommendations, available in the April 2012 issue of Arthritis Care & Research, update the organizations 2000 recommendations.
To come up with the recommendations, a list of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic modalities commonly used to manage knee, hip, and hand OA as well as clinical scenarios representing patients with symptomatic hand, hip, and knee OA were generated. Systematic evidence-based literature reviews were conducted by a working group at the Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, and updated by ACR staff to include additions to bibliographic databases through December 31, 2010. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach, a formal process to rate scientific evidence and to develop recommendations that are as evidence based as possible, was used by a Technical Expert Panel comprised of various stakeholders to formulate the recommendations for the use of non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic modalities for OA of the hand, hip, and knee.
Both strong and conditional recommendations were made for OA management. Modalities conditionally recommended for the management of hand OA include instruction in joint protection techniques, provision of assistive devices, use of thermal modalities and trapeziometacarpal joint splints, and use of oral and topical nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), tramadol, and topical capsaicin.
Non-pharmacologic modalities strongly recommended for the management of knee OA were aerobic, aquatic, and/or resistance exercises as well as weight loss for overweight patients. Non-pharmacologic modalities conditionally recommended for knee OA included medial wedge insoles for valgus knee OA, subtalar strapped lateral insoles for varus knee OA, medially directed patellar taping, manual therapy, walking aids, thermal agents, Tai Chi, self management programs, and psychosocial interventions.
Pharmacologic modalities conditionally recommended for the initial management of patients with knee OA included acetaminophen, oral and topical NSAIDs, tramadol, and intraarticular corticosteroid injections; intraarticular hyaluronate injections, duloxetine, and opioids were conditionally recommended in patients who had an inadequate response to initial therapy. Opioid analgesics were strongly recommended in patients who were either not willing to undergo or had contraindications for total joint arthroplasty after having failed medical therapy. Recommendations for hip OA were similar to those for the management of knee OA.
These recommendations are based on the consensus judgment of clinical experts from a wide range of disciplines, informed by available evidence, balancing the benefits and harms of both non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic modalities, and incorporating their preferences and values. It is hoped that these recommendations will be utilized by health care providers involved in the management of patients with OA.