Certain treatment modalities can keep middle-age and elderly athletes active and reduce the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, according to a recent review.

Researchers reviewed current scientific evidence regarding recommendations for maturing athletes and the management of knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Treatment modalities included:

  • Exercise and weight loss. A review of randomized controlled trials by the American Geriatric Society found that pain and morbidity of OA are reduced with increased physical activity. “Obesity is one of the most prevalent, influential and modifiable risk factors of knee OA,” the researchers added.
  • Physical therapy. Researchers pointed to a Cochrane review in which meta-analysis showed exercise programs resulted in a mean treatment benefit for both knee pain and physical function that similar to pain relief provided by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Bracing, knee taping and orthotics. Therapeutic knee taping may improve alignment of the patellofemoral joint and unloading inflamed soft tissues, which could improve pain scores in patients with knee OA, the researchers reported.
  • Supplements and dietary factors. The efficacy of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate is controversial, despite minimal side effects, it was reported. Vitamin C, avocado soybean unsaponifiable and fatty intake acid also were mentioned as supplements that might help treat knee OA.
  • Pharmacotherapies. These included oral (acetaminophen, NSAIDs and opioids), topical (NSAIDs, diclofenac) and injectable pharmacotherapies (corticosteroids, hyaluronic acid [viscosupplementation] and botulinum toxin). “Intra-articular botulinum toxin is a less widely used therapy that may have antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory actions,” the reviewers reported.
  • Biologics. These included growth factors, platelet-rich plasma, concentrated bone marrow aspirate and other stem cell therapies.

“Master athletes are prone to developing knee OA that can inhibit their participation in sports and exercise,” the researchers concluded. “To reduce symptoms, continuation of low-impact, moderately intense exercises should be encouraged. These treatment modalities can help keep the aging athlete active, which in itself plays an important role in reducing the symptoms of knee [OA].”

Disclosures: See the study for a full list of relevant disclosures.

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