Osteoarthritis is a chronic and progressive condition that mostly affects the hands, spine and joints such as hips, knees and ankles. Osteoarthritis will become one of the most prevalent diseases in populations from high-income countries in the coming decades. It is the most common form of arthritis and the predominant condition leading to knee and hip replacement surgery in Australia.
In this article, we’ll provide a guide about osteoarthritis, how you receive scientific evidence-based care and the treatment options available to you.
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Prevalence of Osteoarthritis in Australia
- 3 in 5 people who have osteoarthritis are female
- People with osteoarthritis were twice as likely to describe their health as ‘poor’, among those aged 45 and over
- There was a 38% rise in the rate of total knee replacements for osteoarthritis from 2005–06 to 2017–18
- 1 in 11 Australians (9.3%) have osteoarthritis, approximately 2.2 million people in 2017–18
It was believed that Osteoarthritis was exclusively a degenerative disease of the cartilage, however, latest evidence has proven that it is a multifactorial entity, involving multiple factors like trauma, mechanical forces, inflammation, biochemical reactions, and metabolic derangements.
Osteoarthritis is a whole joint disease, involving structural alterations in the cartilage, bone, ligaments, capsule, synovium, and muscles. The complex pathogenesis of osteoarthritis involves mechanical, inflammatory, and metabolic factors, which ultimately lead to structural destruction and failure of the joint.
The disease is an active dynamic alteration arising from an imbalance between the repair and destruction of joint tissues, and not a passive degenerative disease or so-called wear-and-tear disease as commonly described.
Hence, when we looking at the targeted pain mechanism to treat the joint-related pain, we should consider the following:
- Nociceptive: Tissue Injury e.g. degenerative disease, osteoarthritis, muscle spasm, inflammation
- Neuropathic: Nerve Injury e.g. nerve dysfunction, post-surgical pain
- Nociplastic: Sensitised Nervous System e.g. complex regional pain syndrome, fibromyalgia