Physiotherapy in hip and knee osteoarthritis: development of a practice guideline concerning initial assessment, treatment and evaluation

Acta Reumatol Port. 2011 Jul-Sep;36(3):268-81.


Background: An update of a Dutch physiotherapy practice guideline in Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis (HKOA) was made, based on current evidence and best practice.

Methods: A guideline steering committee, comprising 10 expert physiotherapists, selected topics concerning the guideline chapters: initial assessment, treatment and evaluation. With respect to treatment a systematic literature search was performed using various databases, and the evidence was graded (1-4). For the initial assessment and evaluation mainly review papers and textbooks were used. Based on evidence and expert opinion, recommendations were formulated. A first draft of the guideline was reviewed by 17 experts from different professional backgrounds. A second draft was field-tested by 45 physiotherapists.

Results: In total 11 topics were selected. For the initial assessment, three recommendations were formulated, pertaining to history taking, red flags, and formulating treatment goals. Concerning treatment, 7 recommendations were formulated; (supervised) exercise therapy, education and self management interventions, a combination of exercise and manual therapy, postoperative exercise therapy and taping of the patella were recommended. Balneotherapy and hydrotherapy in HKOA, and thermotherapy, TENS, and Continuous Passive Motion in knee OA were neither recommended nor discouraged. Massage therapy, ultrasound, electrotherapy, electromagnetic field, Low Level Laser Therapy, preoperative physiotherapy and education could not be recommended. For the evaluation of treatment goals the following measurement instruments were recommended: Lequesne index, Western Ontario and McMaster Universities osteoarthritis index, Hip disability and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score and Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score, 6-minute walktest, Timed Up and Go test, Patient Specific Complaint list, Visual Analoge Scale for pain, Intermittent and Constant OsteoArthritis Pain Questionnaire, goniometry, Medical Research Council for strength, handheld dynamometer.

Conclusions: This update of a Dutch physiotherapy practice guideline on HKOA included 11 recommendations on the initial assessment, treatment and evaluation. The implementation of the guideline in clinical practice needs further evaluation.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / standards*