Besides community health services, and plans from the GPs, our public hospital system also offer services that can help you manage your knee osteoarthritis. This page was created to inform you about what these services, with the specific focus on the OAHKS clinic.
As you can see, there are plenty of public and private services that are available to manage your knee osteoarthritis. The public hospital system is also an option that you can choose. However there are some differences between the service they provide in comparison to community health centres and private practices.
Generally, public metropolitan hospitals in Melbourne only provide outpatient allied health services for those individuals who have had an acute and sudden drastic change such as a broken bone or surgery.
- For example, someone who has had a knee replacement might still be walking with a walking frame, therefore they need help to restore their mobility and wean off the crutches.
For chronic conditions (such as knee osteoarthritis) the public hospitals are not funded to provide allied health services – hence community health services, private practices and Chronic Disease Management Plans are created to cater to this population!
However, most metropolitan hospital network in Melbourne do provide a service called OAHKS.
OAHKS stands for OsteoArthritis Hip and Knee Service. It is a service that co-ordinates the management and treatment of people with hip or knee osteoarthritis and it includes referral to surgical and non-surgical care.
An advanced musculoskeletal physiotherapist conducts the assessment. There may also be a rheumatologist.
For the official description of OAHKS by the Department of Health, click here.
The OAHKS team helps people with hip or knee osteoarthritis manage their condition through assessments to determine the most appropriate pathway in collaboration with the individual.
To do this, an advanced musculoskeletal physiotherapist (who is experienced in clinical and radiological assessment of patients with hip and knee osteoarthritis) completes an assessment with the individual. They then determine the need and provide advice on non-surgical management and/or joint replacement and make referrals accordingly.
From here the individual may be referred to various allied health professionals to trial non-surgical management, or an orthopaedic surgeon.
The aim is to provide care for individuals with hip or knee osteoarthritis that is based on the latest guidelines for GPs; which is to provide appropriate non-surgical management before surgery. For more information on the different tiers of management of knee osteoarthritis, click here.
Below is a simplistic version of the OAHKS pathway
The first line of treatment in the management of knee osteoarthritis includes education on the condition, self-management strategies, lifestyle modification, exercise and weight management. According to the latest clinical guideline all individuals with knee osteoarthritis should try this before considering other options.
As a result, your may be referred to physiotherapists, dietitians, podiatrists and other allied health practitioners (such as psychologists and counsellors). This could take place in a community health centre, private practices, or through the chronic disease management plan.
Everyone should undergo first line treatment before thinking about other options. The OAHKS clinician will assess any previous treatment that you have done and will advice on the appropriate pathway from here.
If you are referred to an orthopaedic surgeon for the consideration of a knee replacement, there are a few more requirements and assessments that needs to be completed.
Below is a list of them
To be referred to an OAHKS clinic, you must have a referral from your GP. You can do this by setting up an appointment with your local GP.
OAHKS clinic runs in most metropolitan public hospitals in Victoria. For a list of these hospitals, click here and scroll down to the ‘Location’ section.
Gibbs, A. J., Taylor, N. F., Hau, R., Barton, C., Fong, C., Roddy, L., … & Wallis, J. A. (2020). Osteoarthritis Hip and Knee Service (OAHKS) in a community health setting compared to the hospital setting: A feasibility study for a new care pathway. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice, 49, 102167.