The increasing need for nonoperative treatment of patients with osteoarthritis

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2001 Apr;(385):36-45. doi: 10.1097/00003086-200104000-00008.


Osteoarthritis affects more patients than almost any other musculoskeletal disorder. The number of patients suffering joint pain and stiffness as a result of this disease will increase rapidly in the next decade. Although operative treatments of patients with osteoarthritis will continue to improve and the number of operative procedures will increase slightly in the next decade, only a small fraction of the patients with osteoarthritis will require operative procedures. The most pressing healthcare need for the majority of patients with osteoarthritis is nonoperative care that helps relieve symptoms and improve function, and in some instances slows progression. In rare instances, the symptoms of osteoarthritis improve spontaneously, but most patients need nonoperative care for decades. Orthopaedists need to improve their ability to provide nonoperative care for patients with osteoarthritis. They should be skilled in the early diagnosis of osteoarthritis and in the use of current common nonoperative treatments including patient education, activity modification, shoe modifications, braces, oral analgesics, oral nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medications, oral dietary supplements, and intraarticular injections. Furthermore, orthopaedists should be prepared to incorporate new nonoperative treatments for patients with osteoarthritis into their practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Chondroitin Sulfates / therapeutic use
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise
  • Glucosamine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Chondroitin Sulfates
  • Glucosamine