Most Doctors Not Following Evidence-Based Guidelines for Treating Osteoarthritis

Just to add to the level of confusion around what to do for osteoarthritis, a study found that most doctors are likely not following the recommended, evidence-based guidelines for treatment of the disease.

What are they doing?

Prescribing pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications and suggesting or performing surgery.

And what should they be doing according to the article?

Recommending weight loss and exercise.

So, why would doctors not follow the evidence-based approach of weight loss and exercise?

Two reasons.

First, it takes about twenty years for newly published research to make its way into clinical practice. For example, in the 70’s Dr. Robert Salter discovered that moving joints after surgery produced a far better outcome than immobilizing them. Yet, in the 80’s, we still had orthopedic surgeons who refused to use a Continuous Passive Motion machine – a device that moves your joint for you for extended periods of time – after knee surgery and instead placed the patient in a long leg cast.

Second, people do what they know and are comfortable doing. Doctors, most – not all – know very little about how  to help people lose weight and how to use exercise to improve the structure and function of a joint. So, they stay with what they know. Drugs and surgery.

But, at least now you know.

There’s another problem though.

Most people think of fitness as something separate from their life but I don’t. Your fitness, or lack of it, impacts almost every aspect of your life. Why separate it? Why not make it an integral part of your life?

Here’s the thing. I view fitness on a spectrum. On one end is extremely unfit and on the other end is extremely fit.

If you’re used to running, playing tennis, hiking, working around the house, in the yard, and suddenly you can’t because your knee hurts, guess what’s also happening to you? Your fitness level is sliding down the spectrum to a lower level. And it keeps slip sliding away as long as you can’t function at a higher level.

If you want to be healthier and more fit, then you have to do the work to make your joints as healthy as possible. Change your diet, add joint friendly, progressive exercise using more natural movements and get off the weight machines, and make sure you get several opinions BEFORE you opt for surgery or a life lived on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.