Next review date: 2018

This guideline offers evidence-based advice on the care of adults with osteoarthritis.

It was previously called osteoarthritis: care and management in adults. 

This guideline update was originally intended to include recommendations based on a review of new evidence about the use of paracetamol, etoricoxib and fixed-dose combinations of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) plus gastroprotective agents in the management of osteoarthritis. Draft recommendations based on the evidence reviews for these areas were presented in the consultation version of the guideline. Stakeholder feedback at consultation indicated that the draft recommendations, particularly in relation to paracetamol, would be of limited clinical application without a full review of evidence on the pharmacological management of osteoarthritis. NICE was also aware of an ongoing review by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) of the safety of over-the-counter analgesics. Therefore NICE intends to commission a full review of evidence on the pharmacological management of osteoarthritis, which will start once the MHRA's review is completed, to inform a further guideline update.

Until that update is published, the original recommendations (from 2008) on the pharmacological management of osteoarthritis remain current advice. However, the Guideline Development Group (GDG) would like to draw attention to the findings of the evidence review on the effectiveness of paracetamol that was presented in the consultation version of the guideline. That review identified reduced effectiveness of paracetamol in the management of osteoarthritis compared with what was previously thought. The GDG believes that this information should be taken into account in routine prescribing practice until the planned full review of evidence on the pharmacological management of osteoarthritis is published.

This guidance updates and replaces osteoarthritis: the care and management of osteoarthritis in adults (CG59). 

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

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