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Specialist physiotherapists tell us about "osteoarthritis school"

Picture of Elin Östlinds face taken in front of a brick wall.
Elin Östlind, Specialist physiotherapist

We have spoken with two specialist physiotherapists who are experts in "osteoarthritis school" (Swedish: artrosskola). Many people turn to us to ask what osteoarthritis school is, how it works, and where they can sign up. We hope to answer some of the most common questions about it.

Elin Östlind is a specialist physiotherapist in orthopedics and works at a healthcare center. Elin has worked in primary care since 2009 and has met patients with osteoarthritis over the years. Since 2016, she has held osteoarthritis school at her workplace. In addition to clinical work, she also conducts research, her thesis was about physical activity and the use of activity meters in people with osteoarthritis in the hip and knee. She is also the chair of a local working group for hip and knee osteoarthritis within Region Skåne.

Thérése Jönsson is a specialist physiotherapist in orthopedics and works at the orthopedic clinic at Skåne University Hospital. Since 2003, she has worked as a physiotherapist and has always worked in orthopedics. In addition to clinical work, she also conducts research. When she defended her thesis, it was about osteoarthritis school. Thérése is also part of the same working group for hip and knee osteoarthritis as Elin.

Osteoarthritis school has existed for over 10 years and many people with osteoarthritis have been helped by the treatment. However, we learn that it nowadays often is being referred to as "first-line treatment" instead, as that is exactly what it is. A first-line treatment for those with osteoarthritis in the knee and/or hip. In some cases, there are also exercises for people with hand osteoarthritis. Training and information, which osteoarthritis school is based on, are two pillars in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Thérése and Elin tell us that weight loss is an important factor as well in first-line treatment of osteoarthritis, but this is usually not a part of the osteoarthritis school.

We have received some questions regarding osteoarthritis in other joints, e.g. the neck, can one sign up for osteoarthritis school even with osteoarthritis in the neck? 
“If you have problems in other joints than those for which the osteoarthritis school is adapted, you should seek a physiotherapist to get help with exercises that are individually adapted for the problems you have.”

Currently, there are opportunities in many places in the country for both physical osteoarthritis school, for example at a healthcare center, and digital osteoarthritis school. The digital osteoarthritis school is also accessible via the healthcare center, as long as it is offered in the current region. To access the regions’ both physical and digital osteoarthritis school, you need to contact your healthcare center first. There may be private alternatives that can be found on your own.

Soon you will also find the second part about the osteoarthritis school on The Arthritis portal.