Osteoarthritis (OA) cannot be cured, but several strategies are available to help people manage symptoms so they can stay active. To help people decide which treatment is right, the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation has developed a Shared Decision-Making® program called Managing Early-Stage Knee Osteoarthritis.
This program is for people 40 and older who have been told by a doctor that knee OA, and not another type of arthritis, is the likely cause of their symptoms. To be eligible for the program, people should be considering treatment but not be bothered enough by symptoms to consider having knee replacement surgery. The Foundation has developed separate programs for people with more severe symptoms who are considering knee replacement and for people whose symptoms are likely due to a torn meniscus.
This program describes how the knee works and how OA can affect the knee. It discusses the nonsurgical options people can try to relieve knee pain and stiffness, as well as increase the ability to engage in physical and everyday activities. These options include:
- exercise therapy and general aerobic activity
- managing weight and changing how people engage in daily activities
- heat and cold packs, braces and canes, and capsaicin cream
- pain medications
- knee injections
The program discusses arthroscopic surgery (knee arthroscopy), which has not proven to be effective for helping with the symptoms of knee OA. The program also describes the role of complementary and alternative therapies.
Interviews feature a real patient with knee OA who describes how she used exercise therapy and lifestyle changes to manage her symptoms. An orthopedic surgeon is also featured in the program.
This program was developed with our production partner, Health Dialog. It is available as a booklet and a web-based program (Health Crossroads®) for Health Dialog members.