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01-12-2020 | Research | Uitgave 1/2020 Open Access

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 1/2020

Management of first metatarsophalangeal joint osteoarthritis by physical therapists and podiatrists in Australia and the United Kingdom: a cross-sectional survey of current clinical practice

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research > Uitgave 1/2020
Kade L. Paterson, Rana S. Hinman, Hylton B. Menz, Kim L. Bennell
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First metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint osteoarthritis (OA) is a common and painful problem that causes significant disability. There is limited research on assessment and treatment options, and the efficacy of current management strategies is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine how podiatrists and physical therapists in Australia and the United Kingdom (UK) manage people with first MTP joint OA.


A survey of podiatrists and physiotherapists was conducted. Potential respondents were recruited through professional representative organisations in Australia and the UK. Participants completed a bespoke online survey regarding the assessment and treatment approaches they most commonly use for patients with first MTP joint OA. Descriptive statistics were calculated and differences between professions compared using chi-square.


Two hundred respondents (n = 113 (57%) podiatrists and n = 140 (70%) from Australia) completed the survey. Assessment tests were similar between professions and included x-ray (n = 151/164; 92%), range of motion (n = 127/141; 90%), and a pain scale (n = 78/99; 79%). Podiatrists were more likely than physical therapists to discuss over-the-counter medication (42% vs 17%; p < 0.001), prescribe orthoses (97% vs 66%; p < 0.001), particularly custom orthoses (78% vs 42%; p < 0.001), and provide advice on footwear (92% vs 78%; p < 0.01) when treating first MTP joint OA. In contrast, physical therapists used more exercise-based approaches to treatment, including exercise therapy (91% vs 34%; p < 0.001), increasing general activity (70% vs 49%; p < 0.01), and advice to pace activities (83% vs 48%; p < 0.001).


Podiatrists and physical therapists use an array of assessment and treatment approaches for people with first MTP joint OA, albeit there is limited evidence to support their clinical utility. Treatment strategies differ between professions, particularly with respect to medication, orthoses and exercise. It is unclear whether these commonly-used strategies improve symptoms associated with first MTP joint OA.

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