£2 million in funding awarded for knee osteoarthritis treatment trial

Leeds' university academics secure £2 million in research funding in collaborating for treatment of knee osteoarthritis

Professor Hemant Pandit, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery (LIRMM) with Professor Deborah Stocken, Professor of Clinical Trials Research (LICTR) and other co-applicants have been awarded £2million from NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme to conduct a non-inferiority trial for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis.

Knee osteoarthritis is a common disabling condition that causes pain which limits day-to-day activities. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the joint gradually wears away, it becomes frayed and rough, and the protective space between the bones decreases. This can result in bone rubbing on bone and produce painful bone spurs. It is increasing since people are living longer with increasing obesity but with a desire to stay active.

 Knee arthritis can make it hard to do many everyday activities, such as walking, climbing stairs, or other forms of exercise.  

When initial medical management fails, patients may be offered a knee replacement. In 2015 - 16 over 100,000 replacements were carried out in the UK at a cost to the NHS of over £1 billion. Although most people experience substantial improvement in their symptoms, one in five continues to suffer from pain. With time, artificial joints fail particularly in the young and/or active.

Knee replacement is therefore not the preferred treatment option for people who are likely to outlive their artificial knee. Knee joint distraction is an alternative treatment which retains the knee joint and allows healthy cartilage to heal which keeps the joint pain free. Knee joint distraction seems to be a suitable and promising treatment for young and active patients but is currently not standard practice in the UK.

344 patients will be recruited in this multi-centre trial across the UK. An analysis of the cost-effectiveness will be performed to see if knee joint distraction could represent value for money for the NHS where the number of patients with knee osteoarthritis is set to increase substantially.

Sources: orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/arthritis-of-the-knee/