Author(s): Wenham CY, Conaghan PG
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Abstract A recent large survey showed that 81\% of people with osteoarthritis (OA) are in constant pain or are limited in their ability to perform everyday tasks. Patients present with joint pain and stiffness and are often unable to carry out their usual activities which impacts significantly on their quality of life. Anxiety and depression are common in patients with OA and will affect their mood and response to pain so identifying and treating associated anxiety and depression is very important. The PHQ9 and GAD7 can be used to screen for depression and anxiety. The OA process affects all structures within a joint, including the synovial lining and the subchondral bone. When sensitive MRI techniques are used synovitis is found to be almost ubiquitous in painful knee OA. When ultrasound is used, synovitis is seen in up to 45\% of patients with painful hand OA. Many current treatments for OA are thought to target the synovium e.g. NSAIDs and this may be why they are effective. Changes in the subchondral bone are also common on MRI and associated with pain. Paracetamol and topical NSAIDs should be tried before oral NSAIDs. Topical NSAIDs are effective in the short-term and are not associated with systemic toxicity. Oral NSAIDs should be used at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. All oral NSAIDs and COX-2 drugs should be prescribed with a PPI. There is less trial data on opioids than on NSAIDs but there is evidence for their efficacy. Patients who have moderate to severe pain that is not responding to oral analgesics or anti-inflammatories may benefit from intra-articular corticosteroids. Timing of analgesia is important. Advise patients to use analgesia before they exercise, so adherence to exercise routines is maintained. Consider long-acting preparations so pain relief is at a maximum throughout the most symptomatic period of the day or night.
This article was published in Practitioner
and referenced in Journal of Phylogenetics & Evolutionary Biology