Most people with knee pain receive low-value, inappropriate care

With knee pain affecting a large share of the community, our researchers at the Kolling Institute are calling for clinicians and GPs to avoid delays in adopting the most up to date, evidenced-based guidelines.

Investigators from the Kolling’s Osteoarthritis Research Team report that knee pain is particularly disabling, accounting for five per cent of all visits to a GP.

The most common causes of pain are knee osteoarthritis, patellofemoral pain and meniscal tears.

Knee osteoarthritis affects an estimated 654 million people worldwide – a tremendous number of people, while meniscal tears affect approximately 12 per cent of the adult population. Meniscal tears can occur following a twisting injury or as a result of a degenerative condition.

In young people, knee pain is often the result of an acute traumatic injury, such as an ACL injury, meniscal tear or patellofemoral pain, and these conditions typically affect sporting populations under 40.

Following extensive investigations, our researchers have found that the majority of people with these conditions receive low-value and inappropriate care.

Dr Vicky Duong said our latest research, published today, indicates that the first-line treatment for these conditions should focus on conservative management, including exercise, education and self-management.

“Our research demonstrates the importance of initially visiting a GP or physiotherapist to aid diagnosis and management,” she said.

“Imaging is not required to diagnose these conditions, and importantly, surgery is not indicated for most people.

“Surgery is only recommended in specific circumstances, for instance where patients have end-stage osteoarthritis with disabling pain.

“We hope that our work will help inform the clinical community about the optimal, evidence-based care and that those recommendations are adopted as quickly as possible throughout hospitals and the broader community.”

The research involved national and international collaborators including teams from La Trobe University, the University of Medicine, Mandalay and Southern Medical University, China.

The paper has been published in the prestigious JAMA journal