The numbers only tell part of the story. 170,000 hip and knee replacements each year. Almost one million people visiting their GP for help. Billions of pounds in lost productivity and other costs to the economy.
Behind the numbers on osteoarthritis, of course, are people living with osteoarthritis. The condition and its effects vary a lot from one person to another. But it can be difficult coping with pain and other symptoms (particularly in the face of sudden, unpredictable episodes), trying to maintain or adapt daily activities, and dealing with the frustration and uncertainty about the future.
Safe, effective treatments available in primary care are part of the solution.
The National Institute for Health Research recently called for a new trial of knee braces in primary care. Patients were involved in prioritising this topic. Here’s why,
“Osteoarthritis (OA) is often made worse by weight-bearing or biomechanical forces through an affected joint. Local support for the joint may improve pain and function. A large number of support devices are available to help people with OA, for example braces for OA of the knee. Their aim is to improve both function and symptoms. The cost of knee braces to the NHS each year is very high. However, there are very few large, pragmatic trials to demonstrate the efficacy of knee braces and there is little information available to guide healthcare professionals on which people would benefit most from these aids…”
We are a group of researchers working together with patient representatives. We are planning our knee brace trial. If funded, we would invite patients in Northumbria, Staffordshire, Cheshire, and Manchester to take part. We’d like to hear the views of Voice North members.