Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative condition affecting the joints such as hips, knees and ankles. It is one of the largest disease related burdens of disability in Australasia with women and the elderly at an increased risk. The majority of OA patients are managed in local primary care, therefore it is crucial they are equipped to provide comprehensive and consistent advice. Supported by $66,667 worth of funding from Medibank Better Health Foundation, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) through a dedicated working group endeavour to update the existing guidelines to equip general practitioners with the most relevant and useful content.
RACGP published the guideline for the non-surgical management of hip and knee osteoarthritis in 2009 as part of an initiative aimed at decreasing the burden of chronic disease in Australia. With a 32% rise in the rate of total knee replacements for osteoarthritis from 2004-2005 to 2013-14, optimising management guidelines for GPs is vital. The general practice plays an important role in early detection and management of OA as it is primarily the first point of contact for patients but current quality of care is suboptimal. Reviewing these guidelines aims to optimise patient’s quality of life, encourage and support self-management and prevent progression. This project focuses specifically on hip and knee osteoarthritis, however the guidelines will be useful to other areas prone to OA.