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Introduction: the comprehensive approach 

Introduction: the comprehensive approach
Chapter:
Introduction: the comprehensive approach
Author(s):

Michael Doherty

, Johannes Bijlsma

, Nigel Arden

, David J. Hunter

, and Nicola Dalbeth

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199668847.003.0020
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date: 06 June 2020

This introductory chapter to the section on management of osteoarthritis (OA) emphasizes the need for a full assessment of the patient, not just in terms of joint symptoms and examination findings but a full holistic assessment of the person, including the impact of OA on their life, their illness perceptions of OA, and the presence of comorbidities. An individualized package of care can then be developed. Patients should be fully informed about OA and fully involved in all management decisions. Apart from education, which is an ongoing not one-off process, other core treatments to be considered in every person with OA are exercise (both strengthening and aerobic) and strategies to reduce adverse mechanical factors, including weight loss if overweight or obese. Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the safest analgesic drug to try first for peripheral joint OA. Other treatments can be selected as required from a wide range of drug and non-pharmacological options, to address the needs of the individual. The patient requires regular follow-up for reassessment and re-adjustment of management as required. Currently there are sparse data on predictors of response to treatment, limiting a stratified medicine approach. Caveats to the research evidence for OA and its transition to clinical practice are discussed, and one way of improving this (reporting overall treatment effect and the proportion attributable to placebo in clinical trials) is presented. Optimizing contextual effects, which are an integral part of any treatment and which may explain the majority of improvement that a patient experiences for their OA, is emphasized as a key aspect of care.

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