Hip and knee arthritis: surgery is not the best first option

Written by Rachel Schroder

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common lifestyle disease in people aged 65 years and over, but it can also affect people as young as 30. In Australia, treatment usually focuses on surgery but a new program, GLA:D Australia, offers a safe alternative that may avoid the need for surgery.

GLA:D, or Good life with Arthritis: Denmark, is an education and exercise program developed by researchers in Denmark for people with knee or hip osteoarthritis. The program is based on the latest evidence in OA research and also includes feedback from people with OA on what works in the real world to help manage symptoms. The program is unique in that education and exercises provided can be applied to everyday activities. By strengthening and correcting daily movement patterns (neuromuscular training), participants will train their bodies to move properly, prevent symptom progression and reduce pain.

Current national and international clinical guidelines recommend patient education, exercise and weight loss as first line treatment for OA. The GLA:D program contains management strategies which are recommended in the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) clinical guidelines for best management of OA in the hip and knee.

The GLA:D program has been adapted for use in Australia with LaTrobe University currently training physiotherapists to run the program in their own practices. We are very happy to announce that PhysioSpot will begin running this program commencing this month. Having the GLA:D program at our clinic gives us peace of mind that we are providing the best available first line treatment for osteoarthritis.


Who can participate in GLA:D Australia?

  • Anyone who experiences any hip or knee OA symptoms, regardless of severity
  • Anyone who has a hip or knee joint problem that resulted in visiting a health care provider

You may not be able to participate if:


  • Your hip or knee pain is due to other reasons such as tumour, inflammatory joint disease, hip fracture, soft tissue or connective tissue problems
  • You have other symptoms that are more pronounced than your OA problems e.g. chronic generalised pain or fibromyalgia
  • You are unable to understand or communicate in English

What does GLA:D Australia training consist of?

  • A first appointment with one of our GLA:D trained physiotherapists who will explain the program and assess the function of your knee and/or hip. You will then be sent a questionnaire to complete before you start the program and at 3 and 12 months after commencing.
  • Two education sessions which teach you about OA and how the GLA:D Australia exercises improve joint stability. We also teach you how to retain this improved joint stability once you finish the program.
  • Group neuromuscular training sessions twice a week for six weeks to improve muscle control of the joint. This strengthening of muscle and control of the joint leads to reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life.
  • A final individual session with your physiotherapist after completing the GLA:D program to re- assess your hip and knee function and discuss and recommend ongoing independent exercise

Benefits from the program as found from the research

  • Symptom progression reduces by 32%
  • Less pain
  • Reduced use of joint related pain killers
  • Increased levels of physical activity
  • High levels of satisfaction with the program
  • Less people on sick leave

The GLA:D Australia program is an intensive exercise program but it is well worth it as it may change your life and allow you to return to activities you haven’t been able to do in a long time.

Individual exercise program instruction is available for people who are unable to attend the group sessions due to work or other reasons.

You do not need a referral from your doctor to participate, however, you may be eligible for a rebate from Medicare for some of the cost of the program, if deemed appropriate by your GP.

Call us if you have any questions or want to join the program. You can download our information flyer here.