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Post COVID community based self-care management of disabling osteoarthritis: importance and possible targeted needs

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Background: Osteoarthritis, a highly common, disabling joint disease affecting a large number of older adults is presently incurable, and not always amenable to surgery or pharmacologic interventions.

Purpose: Further complicated by multiple past and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic issues and disease consequences, the purpose was to examine what current data reveal as to the prevailing epidemiological features of osteoarthritis and its pathology. Another was to review the utility of some non-pharmacological and non-operative treatment strategies that have been advocated for alleviating the pain and disability of this disease in later life.

Methods: Building on a 35 year prior review conducted in 2015, this current review was conducted to identify relevant literature published on this topic over the last 5 years, particularly since COVID-19 onset in 2019. Key words included osteoarthritis, COVID-19, prevention, and intervention.

Results: As in prior years, osteoarthritis continues to induce considerable physical disability and consistently impedes the attainment of a high life quality for many older adults. Although not studied to any degree, COVID-19 factors may be expected to render further challenges that compound the disease presentation and its mitigation over time, especially among the long COVID affected older adult. In the face of closures, limited resources, and complex disease presentations, it does appear a variety of non-operative and non-pharmacologic approaches may yet influence the disease process and functional outcomes more positively than not with low safety risks. They may help the older adult more effectively even if surgery is indicated and multiple medications are yet required.

Conclusion: The application of one or more carefully designed conservative interventions is likely to reduce the functional disability and pain experienced by older people with any form of osteoarthritis, regardless of whether surgical and or pharmacologic strategies are indicated.


aging, COVID-19, disability, intervention, osteoarthritis, outcomes, prevention