Comprehensive Review of Knee Osteoarthritis Pharmacological Treatment and the Latest Professional Societies' Guidelines

Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2021 Mar 2;14(3):205. doi: 10.3390/ph14030205.


Osteoarthritis is the most common musculoskeletal progressive disease, with the knee as the most commonly affected joint in the human body. While several new medications are still under research, many symptomatic therapy options, such as analgesics (opioid and non-opioid), nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs, symptomatic slow-acting drugs in osteoarthritis, and preparations for topical administration, are being used, with a diverse clinical response and inconsistent conclusions across various professional societies guidelines. The concept of pharmacogenomic-guided therapy, which lies on principles of the right medication for the right patient in the right dose at the right time, can significantly increase the patient's response to symptom relief therapy in knee osteoarthritis. Corticosteroid intra-articular injections and hyaluronic acid injections provoke numerous discussions and disagreements among different guidelines, even though they are currently used in daily clinical practice. Biological options, such as platelet-rich plasma and mesenchymal stem cell injections, have shown good results in the treatment of osteoarthritis symptoms, greatly increasing the patient's quality of life, especially when combined with other therapeutic options. Non-inclusion of the latter therapies in the guidelines, and their inconsistent stance on numerous therapy options, requires larger and well-designed studies to examine the true effects of these therapies and update the existing guidelines.

Keywords: drug therapy; guidelines; intra-articular injections; knee osteoarthritis; mesenchymal stem cells; pharmacogenomics.

Publication types

  • Review