Osteoarthritis treatment online – pros and cons of digital therapeutics

Last modified: December 11, 2019

If you are considering osteoarthritis treatment online, you are on the right track. The disease can be easily treated online. More and more studies are showing that online treatment is well-suited for chronic diseases. This is because, among other things, this type of condition is often treated through lifestyle changes; something that is known to be difficult to change. However, online solutions are easier since they make it possible to send reminders and to view your progress. Receiving the daily activities, such as training exercises or lessons, directly on your mobile phone also reduces the barriers to performing them.

Another important reason that online treatments are well suited to chronic diseases, such as osteoarthritis, is that the treatment is usually long term and even lifelong. The online format where healthcare providers can provide monitoring and assistance without taking up too much time for both the patient and caregiver makes life easier. 

A summary of osteoarthritis treatment

The basic form of treatment of osteoarthritis is exercise. This should be combined with information (about both health in general and osteoarthritis specifically) and potential weight loss. This is well suited for online treatment. In those cases where the affected person has too much pain to perform the training, pain-relieving medications can be used as a supplemental therapy. If the basic treatment does not produce sufficient results, a last resort is prosthetic surgery.

Arthritis patient education as treatment

At an arthritis patient education program or at a physiotherapist’s office, you can get a health check-up. Based on this, each individual receives an exercise program that is customized for that person and their specific goals. The arthritis patient education program also offers regular training in groups and a number of theory lessons. The theory lessons provide information about the importance of an active lifestyle and potential weight loss as part of treating osteoarthritis.  The participants also get tips about available resources.

When the treatment occurs online, roughly the same things occur as with on-site treatment. The patient can speak with a physiotherapist or an orthopedist and answer questions about their health so that the diagnosis can be made over the telephone. Based on these answers, an individual, customized training program is created. People who receive treatment online get the same information as from the patient education classes or a physiotherapist. The online treatment complies with the guidelines of the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare. The advantages of online treatment are that participants can contact their physiotherapist at any time and that the exercises can be performed at home. At the same time, it is easier to monitor your progress since it is regularly logged in the app.

Differences between traditional care and osteoarthritis treatment online

Even if the same type of information and training is offered with both traditional care or online treatment, there are a number of differences between the two alternatives. A person who prefers to exercise in groups and wants a sense of camaraderie with other people in the same situation should chose a physical patient education program. There are several training sessions together with other people – something that provides many people with motivation. Meeting with a physiotherapist can be an option for people who prefer individual guidance and instruction. This also provides greater opportunity to ask questions. However, both of these alternatives require being at a certain place by a certain time.

This can be avoided if online treatment is selected. Training is provided daily over your mobile phone. You can choose the location and time of day that works best for performing the exercises. Here there is more focus on the individual – which is more personal and involves greater responsibility. However, it is still easy to contact your physiotherapist because they are always accessible via text message. At the same time, daily reminders make it easier to get the training done.

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