Recommendation ID
Treating common presentations of osteoarthritis for which there is little evidence:- What are effective treatments for people with osteoarthritis who have common but poorly researched problems, such as pain in more than one joint or foot osteoarthritis?
Any explanatory notes
(if applicable)
Why this is important:- Although people with osteoarthritis typically have symptoms that affect one joint at any particular time, there are still many people, especially older people, who have more than one painful joint. For example, it is common for osteoarthritis to affect both knees, or for a person to have pain in one knee and in one or more small joints such as the base of the thumb or the big toe. The mechanisms that cause pain may differ in people with one affected joint compared with those who have pain in several joints. For example, altered use because of pain in one joint often leads to increased mechanical stress and pain at other sites, and having chronic pain at one site can influence the experience of pain elsewhere in the body. However, almost all trials of treatments for osteoarthritis focus on a single joint, and if a participant has bilateral symptoms or additional symptoms at a different joint site only one 'index' joint (the most painful) is assessed. Whether systemic treatments for osteoarthritis work less well if a person has more than one painful site, and whether local treatment of one joint (for example, injection of corticosteroid into a knee) can lead to benefits at other sites (for example, the foot) remains unknown. A further caveat to current research evidence is that most trials focus on treatment of knee osteoarthritis, and to a lesser extent hip or hand osteoarthritis, but there are very few trials that examine other prevalent sites of osteoarthritis such as the first metatarsophalangeal (bunion) joint, the mid-foot joints, the ankle or the shoulder. Trials should be undertaken to determine the efficacy of available treatments, both local and systemic, at such sites. New outcome instruments to measure pain, stiffness and function specific to osteoarthritis at each site may need to be developed and validated for use in such trials.

Source guidance details

Comes from guidance
Osteoarthritis: care and management
Date issued
February 2014

Other details

Is this a recommendation for the use of a technology only in the context of research? No  
Is it a recommendation that suggests collection of data or the establishment of a register?   No  
Last Reviewed 13/03/2014