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Study shows that digital treatment decreases the need for surgery

Press release   •   Oct 22, 2018 07:54 UTC

For almost 21 million americans, osteoarthritis is a painful reality. It’s a chronic condition that can cause great troubles for the ones affected. Every year, almost 300 000 hip and 600 000 knee replacements are performed in the United States - many of which are due to osteoarthritis. But many of these could be avoided. A new clinical study shows that 31 percent of the patients set on surgery were no longer interested in it after six weeks in a digital treatment program.

With the purpose of examining the effect of a digital treatment program in osteoarthritis patients, Joint Academy performed their fourth clinical study. The purpose with the study was to investigate how many people with hip and knee osteoarthritis had problems that were serious enough to want surgery, and whether or not this changed after six weeks in a digital treatment program. The treatment combined physical activities, education, and guidance from a physiotherapist.

The study included 458 patients aged 56-68, of which 67 percent were women. All of the participants were diagnosed with hip or knee osteoarthritis and went through Joint Academy’s digital treatment program, which includes activities that are performed for around five minutes every day. From these 458 patients, around a third held the opinion that their symptoms were grave enough for them to want surgery at the start of the treatment.

Digital treatment program for osteoarthritis decreases the interest in surgery

After six weeks of treatment, 31 percent of the patients that initially wanted surgery had changed their minds. Factors that had affected the patients’ decisions were pain levels, ability of walking, and quality of life. Although there were those who still wanted surgery after six weeks in the program, this number was significantly lower (6 percent).

 - Previous research has shown that digital treatment is effective for chronic conditions. This study confirms it, but also shows that a structured treatment program for osteoarthritis not only decreases pain and increases the everyday function, but that it can also decrease the need for surgery. For these reasons, it should be offered to all patients as a first step in their osteoarthritis treatment, Håkan Nero, responsible for research at Joint Academy, says.

High costs for society and individual

Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that generates high costs for society and individual alike. For all of those diagnosed with osteoarthritis, the condition brings a decreased physical capacity and lower quality of life. The average hospital charge for a total knee replacement in the United States is $49 500. A partial knee replacement typically costs about 10 to 20 percent less than a total knee replacement. This means that a decrease in the amount of surgeries needed also brings radical savings of money. 

- An individual treatment, led by a physiotherapist, that gives such positive results increases the faith in the affected person’s own ability to treat their condition and can decrease or postpone the need for a surgical solution, Håkan Nero, responsible for research at Joint Academy, concludes.

Read the complete study here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/acr.23772

For more information

Håkan Nero, Head of Research and Science, Joint Academy: +46706105255

Jakob Dahlberg, CEO Joint Academy: +46707169716‬

Facts: This is how osteoarthritis is treated digitally

Joint Academy is a treatment program based on clinical evidence as well as an extensive effort from experienced developers where the user is the center of attention. Through the program, people with osteoarthritis receive important information and support to do necessary lifestyle changes that are sustainable, as well as individualized exercises to strengthen the affected joints and increase their function. The participants also have a personal physiotherapist that guides them through the entire treatment.

The chronic condition osteoarthritis should, according to international guidelines and research, primarily be treated with personalized training and information about the condition. In some cases, weight control is also necessary. However, this isn’t always the case in reality. Only a minority of patients see a physiotherapist before surgery. In these cases, digital treatment can be a way to reach those who do not get the foundational treatment in other ways. 

At Joint Academy, we believe effective care of the most hard-to-treat conditions requires approaches beyond simply taking pills or doing surgery. We are transforming how medicine is delivered and how people get treated for osteoarthritis through the convergence of breakthrough science, big data, latest technology and beautiful design.

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