Around 8.5million people in the UK have osteoarthritis, which causes joint pain and stiffness.
Osteoarthritis is a common condition with associated pain, joint stiffness and reduced quality of life. It affects the joints, most commonly the knees, hips, spine and small joints of the hands, but it can also occur in other joints. Damage and loss of joint-lining cartilage, damage to adjacent bone, and inflammation of the tissues around the joint are the main characteristics of the condition. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, with around 1 million people seeing their GP about it every year. It accounts for 115,000 hospital admissions in the UK each year. The condition can affect people’s ability to undertake daily activities, and is one of the leading causes of pain and disability worldwide.
Issuing its new guidance, Nice says exercise should be the principal treatment. ‘There’s a common but mistaken belief that osteoarthritis is an inevitable part of ageing and that it will get worse – that’s not the case,’ said Professor Mark Baker, clinical practice chief at Nice.
‘The guidance highlights that the core treatment for osteoarthritis remains exercise – this not only helps relieve pain for some but also improves function.’
Professor Philip Conaghan, Chair of the NICE Guideline Development Group, and Professor of Musculoskeletal Medicine at the University of Leeds, said: “The symptoms often caused by osteoarthritis, such as pain and limited joint movement, can be managed with muscle strengthening, exercise and weight loss if people are overweight.”
Osteopaths, sports massage therapists and physiotherapists provide effective treatment for the symptoms of osteoarthritis and deliver expert advice on physical activity and weight-management strategies to reduce pain and improve mobility.