Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that mostly affects the hands, spine and joints such as hips, knees and ankles, and usually gets worse over time. It is the predominant condition leading to knee and hip replacement surgery in Australia.
29% rise in the rate of total knee replacements for osteoarthritis from 2005–06 to 2014–15
1 in 11 Australians (9%) have osteoarthritis, approximately 2.1 million people in 2014–15
1 in 4 people with osteoarthritis self-reported fair or poor health, twice as much as people without the condition
2 in 3 people who have osteoarthritis are female
Analgesics, or painkillers, are commonly used to manage the pain of osteoarthritis. Analgesics include paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioid analgesics.
In Australia, the US and the UK, the clinical practice guidelines for management of osteoarthritis recommend regular use of paracetamol as the first choice. When paracetamol provides insufficient pain relief, regular use of NSAIDs is recommended .
Australian guidelines recommend intra-articular corticosteroid injections for short-term treatment of hip and knee osteoarthritis. Oral opioids are used to relieve moderate to severe pain .
The most common medications prescribed, advised or supplied by general practitioners (GPs) for osteoarthritis  were:
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