The aim of this study was to develop concise, up-to-date, patient-focused, evidence-based, expert consensus guidelines for the management of knee osteoarthritis (OA), intended to inform patients, physicians, and allied healthcare professionals around the world. Thirteen experts from relevant medical disciplines (primary care, rheumatology, orthopedics, physical therapy, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and evidence-based medicine), three continents and ten countries (USA, UK, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Japan, and Canada) and a patient representative comprised the Osteoarthritis Guidelines Development Group (OAGDG). Based on previous OA guidelines and a systematic review of the OA literature, 29 treatment modalities were considered for recommendation. Evidence published subsequent to the 2010 OARSI guidelines was based on a systematic review conducted by the OA Research Society International (OARSI) evidence team at Tufts Medical Center, Boston, USA. Medline, EMBASE, Google Scholar, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched at first in first quarter 2012 and last searched in March 2013. Included evidence was assessed for quality using Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) criteria, and published criticism of included evidence was also considered. To provide recommendations for individuals with a range of health profiles and OA burden, treatment recommendations were stratified into four clinical sub-phenotypes. Consensus recommendations were produced using the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method and Delphi voting process. Treatments were recommended as Appropriate, Uncertain, or Not Appropriate, for each of four clinical sub-phenotypes and accompanied by 1-10 risk and benefit scores. Appropriate treatment modalities for all individuals with knee OA included biomechanical interventions, intra-articular corticosteroids, exercise (land-based and water-based), self-management and education, strength training, and weight management. Treatments appropriate for specific clinical sub-phenotypes included acetaminophen (paracetamol), balneotherapy, capsaicin, cane (walking stick), duloxetine, oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs; COX-2 selective and non-selective), and topical NSAIDs. Treatments of uncertain appropriateness for specific clinical sub-phenotypes included acupuncture, avocado soybean unsaponfiables, chondroitin, crutches, diacerein, glucosamine, intra-articular hyaluronic acid, opioids (oral and transdermal), rosehip, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and ultrasound. Treatments voted not appropriate included risedronate and electrotherapy (neuromuscular electrical stimulation).
The evidence-based consensus recommendations developed give guidance to patients and practitioners on treatments applicable to all individuals with knee OA, as well as therapies that might be considered depending on individualized patient needs and preferences.