Jordan, K. M., Sawyer, S., Coakley, P., Smith, H. E., Cooper, C. and Arden, N. K.
The use of conventional and complementary treatments for knee osteoarthritis in the community
Rheumatology, 43, (3), . (doi:10.1093/rheumatology/keh045).
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Objectives. The aim of the survey was to assess the prevalence of clinically diagnosed knee osteoarthritis (OA) in two general practice populations in the Wessex region (practice A: a deprived urban population and practice B: an affluent rural population) and to assess both conventional and complementary therapy use in these two populations.
Methods. All patients over 55 yr with a clinical diagnosis of knee OA, as identified from the practice computerized records, were sent a questionnaire about their knee pain and their use of conventional and complementary treatments.
Results. A total of 4566 patients over 55 yr were registered in the two practices. Of these, 828 (18.13%) had a clinical diagnosis of knee OA and 240 (29%) patients were asymptomatic at the time of survey. Physiotherapy was under-utilized with only 13.1% of patients having received either hospital- or GP-based physiotherapy. There was a high prevalence of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use, being significantly more in the affluent population (P < 0.05). In the affluent population there were statistically more social class groups 1–3a; statistically more NSAIDs, glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate were also used. The median amount spent on complementary medicine per month was £5.00, with the affluent population spending significantly more (P < 0.05).
Conclusions. In this population, physiotherapy is an under-utilized treatment for knee OA, in spite of its recommendation as first-line treatment in all guidelines. Complementary medicines and therapies are commonly used, particularly in affluent populations.
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