If you've ever tried to search for what the best treatment for osteoarthritis involves, then am sure it wasn't long before the promise of stem cells, magic pills and exciting new surgical procedures popped up! With this in mind, I thought it was time to present you with a Rheumatology Physio’s updated guide to the management of Osteoarthritis.
Did you know that in Australia, Osteoarthritis affects 1 in 5 people over the age of 45 and almost 10% of the overall population? Perhaps not surprisingly, there continues to be a large amount of research produced to help us better understand just how to treat this condition in the best possible way.
At the recent Australian Rheumatology Association (ARA) annual conference in Brisbane, there were a number of talks presenting the latest research in this area. Each analysis questioning current management and looking for the elusive silver bullet.
But are there any new kids on the block ready to take on osteoarthritis?
Read on to find out!
Being touted as the fix-it-all for the human body, stem cells have the power to multiply and change into other types of cells that make up the human body. Could this power allow them to replace the precious joint cartilage that is worn out in osteoarthritis?
At this current stage there is a need for more high quality studies as much of the current research is flawed with large potential for bias. Watch this space!
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections
PRP involves separating the plasma from your blood and injecting it into tissue to help with the healing process. It delivers growth factors, cytokines and proteins to the area and is commonly used in tendon related tears to promote healing.
Unfortunately as with Stem cells, the studies looking at the use of PRP for osteoarthritis are limited and conflicting. There is a need for further high quality research into the area.
So what do we do!?
Given many of the potential new treatments offers little in the way of clear proven benefit- what are osteoarthritis sufferers to focus on to improve their pain and function?
The answer to this has been known for some time and proven over many years of research:
- Weight loss/ management
- Exercise- including strength, flexibility and aerobic exercise
One paper even concluded that this had been proven through research by 2002!
In addition to the above management strategies, we know as allied health professionals that we also need to provide education, sleep management, topical medications or walking aids/ braces to assist with recovery. GP's and other specialists will also need to assist in the management and review of medications.
If you are keen to start exercise for Osteoarthritis- check out our previous blog here (https://www.bjchealth.com.au/blog-fitness/exercise-for-osteoarthritis-where-do-i-start) to learn more!
To find out more about the recommended treatments download our free osteoarthritis checklist below!