Osteoarthritis year in review 2020: rehabilitation and outcomes

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2021 Feb;29(2):190-207. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2020.10.005. Epub 2020 Nov 24.


Objective: Systematically review and synthesize guidelines, systematic reviews, or randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published between April 1, 2019 and April 30, 2020 which evaluated or made recommendations for rehabilitation of persons with osteoarthritis.

Design: Five electronic databases (Medline, EMBASE, Cochrane CENTRAL, CINHAL, Web of Science) were searched with a comprehensive search strategy. Guidelines for rehabilitation of persons with osteoarthritis, and systematic reviews and RCTs evaluating osteoarthritis rehabilitation that included at least one patient-reported outcome measure and/or clinical test of function were included. Two authors independently screened records and assessed methodological quality using the AGREE-II (guidelines), AMSTAR-2 (systematic reviews) or PEDro scale (RCTs). Data were extracted to summarize included records and a narrative synthesis of findings related to core recommended osteoarthritis rehabilitation treatments performed.

Results: Of 2,479 potential records, 253 records were reviewed. Two guidelines, 18 systematic reviews and 38 RCTs were included. 84% (n = 49) of included records related to knee osteoarthritis, 13% (n = 8) to hip, 10% (n = 6) to hand, 3% (n = 2) to mixed, and 1% (n = 1) to foot osteoarthritis. Exercise-therapy, methods to deliver exercise-therapy remotely, and approaches to facilitate exercise-therapy behaviour change were the most commonly evaluated interventions (n = 27). 94% of systematic reviews and 63% of RCTs rated high-quality.

Conclusions: Osteoarthritis rehabilitation research continues to focus on knee osteoarthritis and exercise-based interventions. Emerging topics include rehabilitation of comorbid populations, exercise behaviour change and technology supports. A better understanding of rehabilitation of osteoarthritis in joints other than the knee, and methods to determine and promote ideal exercise-therapy prescription are needed.

Keywords: Exercise; Patient-reported outcomes; Performance tests; Rehabilitation; Review; Telerehab.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis / rehabilitation*
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures