Commentary on recent therapeutic guidelines for osteoarthritis.Semin Arthritis Rheum 2015; 44(6):611-7SA
Despite availability of international evidence-based guidelines for osteoarthritis (OA) management, agreement on the different treatment modalities is lacking.
A symposium of European and US OA experts was held within the framework of the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology to discuss and compare guidelines and recommendations for the treatment of knee OA and to reach a consensus for management, particularly for areas in which there is no clear consensus: non-pharmacological therapy; efficacy and safety of analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); intra-articular (i.a.) hyaluronates (HA); and the role of chondroitin sulfate (CS) and/or glucosamine sulfate (GS).
All guidelines reviewed agree that knee OA is a progressive disease of the joint whose management requires non-pharmacological and pharmacological approaches. Discrepancies between guidelines are few and mostly reflect heterogeneity of expert panels involved, geographical differences in the availability of pharmacotherapies, and heterogeneity of the studies included. Panels chosen for guideline development should include experts with real clinical experience in drug use and patient management. Implementation of agreed guidelines can be thwarted by drug availability and reimbursement plans, resulting in optimal OA treatment being jeopardized, HA and symptomatic slow-acting drugs for osteoarthritis (SySADOAs) being clear examples of drugs whose availability and prescription can greatly vary geographically. In addition, primary care providers, often responsible for OA management (at least in early disease), may not adhere to clinical care guidelines, particularly for non-pharmacological OA treatment.
Harmonization of the recommendations for knee OA treatment is challenging but feasible, as shown by the step-by-step therapeutic algorithm developed by the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis (ESCEO). More easily disseminated and implemented guidance for OA treatment in the primary care setting is key to improved management of OA.