Italian Orthopaedic and Traumatology Society (SIOT) position statement on the non-surgical management of knee osteoarthritis

J Orthop Traumatol. 2023 Sep 7;24(1):47. doi: 10.1186/s10195-023-00729-z.


Background: Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic disease associated with a severe impact on quality of life. However, unfortunately, there are no evidence-based guidelines for the non-surgical management of this disease. While recognising the gap between scientific evidence and clinical practice, this position statement aims to present recommendations for the non-surgical management of knee OA, considering the available evidence and the clinical knowledge of experienced surgeons. The overall goal is to offer an evidenced-based expert opinion, aiding clinicians in the management of knee OA while considering the condition, values, needs and preferences of individual patients.

Methods: The study design for this position statement involved a preliminary search of PubMed, Google Scholar, Medline and Cochrane databases for literature spanning the period between January 2021 and April 2023, followed by screening of relevant articles (systematic reviews and meta-analyses). A Società Italiana Ortopedia e Traumatologia (SIOT) multidisciplinary task force (composed of four orthopaedic surgeons and a rheumatologist) subsequently formulated the recommendations.

Results: Evidence-based recommendations for the non-surgical management of knee OA were developed, covering assessment, general approach, patient information and education, lifestyle changes and physical therapy, walking aids, balneotherapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, pharmacological interventions and injections.

Conclusions: For non-surgical management of knee OA, the recommended first step is to bring about lifestyle changes, particularly management of body weight combined with physical exercise and/or hydrotherapy. For acute symptoms, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), topic or oral, can be used. Opioids can only be used as third-line pharmacological treatment. Glucosamine and chondroitin are also suggested as chronic pharmacological treatment. Regarding intra-articular infiltrative therapy, the use of hyaluronic acid is recommended in cases of chronic knee OA [platelet-rich plasma (PRP) as second line), in the absence of active acute disease, while the use of intra-articular injections of cortisone is effective and preferred for severe acute symptoms.

Keywords: Knee OA; Non-surgical management; Osteoarthritis; SIOT position statement.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Knee Joint
  • Orthopedics*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / diagnosis
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Traumatology*