Clinical pointers: managing osteoarthritis in primary care


Osteoarthritis is the most common musculoskeletal condition in older people. Around a third of people aged 45 years and over in the UK, a total of 8.75 million people, have sought treatment for osteoarthritis.

This short learning module aims to ensure GPs are up to date with the latest evidence for treatments used in general practice to relieve pain and improve function in osteoarthritis, including evidence for non-pharmacological treatments.

It also considers the best ways in which to provide advice and information on exercise, weight control and use of medication.

The module has been written for BMJ Learning by Dr Tom Margham, a GP in Tower Hamlets and our clinical advisor.

Access the package at

Is this module suitable for me?

The module is aimed at GPs wanting to increase their knowledge on the latest approaches to the diagnosis and management of osteoarthritis and covers:

  • disease progression
  • making a diagnosis
  • explaining osteoarthritis to patients
  • weight loss and exercise
  • offering a mix of treatments to optimise benefits
  • the role of paracetamol
  • the importance of regular reviews
  • referring for joint surgery.

Each section contains advice and video interviews with Dr Tom Margham, concluding with a final assessment containing five questions.

Dr Margham gives more information about the course: "Effective consultations are at the heart of good management of osteoarthritis. So this BMJ online module focuses on the latest evidence from NICE and our colleagues at the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre at Keele University, specifically on how to improve the consultation between GPs, practice nurses and their patients with osteoarthritis.

"It suggests approaches which use positive language that reflect the true nature of the osteoarthritis – as a dynamic condition, that isn’t inevitably progressive and where much can be done to improve pain and function and get people back to doing the things they love."

What do I get?

After completing the module you should:

  • appreciate that diagnosis is mostly clinical and not based on x-rays
  • feel confident in explaining the disease to patients
  • know the non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatment options in primary care
  • understand when to refer a patient for surgery.

"Very informative, and useful in educating patients about osteoarthritis."

Clinical pointers participant

BMJ learning has assigned half an hour of CPD/CME credit to the module. You’ll receive an e-certificate on completion to use as evidence in your portfolio.

How do I access the programme?

The module is accessed through

If you’re not already a member you’ll need to subscribe and create an account. Many organisations provide free access to BMJ learning for their members and colleagues.

Find out the full details at